Sunday, March 14, 2010

ASA Judgement for Climate Ads being Overstated, is Overstated by Times

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - the body that deals with complaints in print adverts has now judged the barrage of complaints regarding the governments Climate Change adverts. The different strands of the media have very different takes on it: The guardian notes it as 'a mildly rebuke' whereas the Times shouts 'adverts banned for overstating climate change'. So, who is right? Fortunately the Guardian has posted the source text from the ASA for us to judge... Here's how the Times spun it:
The ASA has ruled that the claims made in the newspaper adverts were not supported by solid science and has told the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that they should not be published again.

It has also referred a television commercial to the broadcast regulator, Ofcom, for potentially breaching a prohibition on political advertising.

There were four ads complained about and all the complaints came to a total of 10 points of issue. Of those 10 points, one of the points was upheld and was a rebuke in that the ad made claims that should have been 'phrased more tentatively'. So 9 out of 10 were dismissed. Were the ads banned? A debatable point too - only 2 of the four were told that they 'could not appear in the current form'. Which suggests that if edited, they can appear. If we look at previous judgements on ads that are banned to compare; a beer ad that was reported as banned had a far stronger summary judgement that this one stating that the ads needed to be withdrawn which suggests baning, whereas another one for haircare products, also reported as banned has a judgement that accepted that the advertiser needed to change the ads but they could see that the ads were not intended to cause the offence they were accused of. These were also judged; 'could not appear in the current form'.

Also, that last sentence of the Times report I quote is also of interest to me as it appears to suggest that the ASA thinks the advert might breach a prohibition on political advertising. This is not the case, political ads in print are allowed, so even if it was judged to be political then the ASA would not rule against it on this point. The ASA did not issue a judgement on if the ads were political - the referral relates to one of the ads, a TV ad, where the complaint about the 'if it is political' needs to be judged by OFCOM - basically a technicality about who judges that bit of the complaint.

In summary the Times article clearly overstates the judgement, spinning it for political reasons as it focuses almost the entire article on the single point the ad was judged to have overstated.

So who wrote this article? Ah Jonathan Leake - the man behind lots of anti-science and climate denial spinning.

1 comment:

The Blob said...

the ads were rubbish anyway