ASA ruling sees inaccurate anti-meat posters withdrawn

Farmers in Scotland have won their first-ever appeal against a poster campaign slamming the industry.

Driven by members, NFU Scotland lodged a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) in June. The poster falsely claimed that “eating animals” contributes more to climate change than transport.

As both the official UK and Scottish Government figures indicated otherwise, the union contacted the organisation asking them to withdraw the posters but received no response.  So, for the first time, NFU Scotland lodged an official complaint with ASA.

The organisation behind the posters responded to the complaint in August but it then took a further two months before the verdict.  During that time, posters were still visible.

The ASA ruling informed NFUS that the posters will no longer appear and the organisation behind them has given assurances to the ASA that it will only use substantiated claims in the future and that it will ensure that future adverts will comply with the advertising code.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “Farming’s frustration over misinformation being spread about the industry has never been higher.  When we see inaccuracies, we must challenge them.  Not least because mainstream media often take erroneous claims like this as being the truth.

“We challenged the claims on this poster about the livestock sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas emission because they were clearly inaccurate, and we provided both UK and Scottish Government statistics to the ASA to prove our point.

We welcome the steps taken by ASA and would not hesitate to make similar complaints in the future.  However, ASA must consider the timeframe in which it responds to official complaints.

“With our evidence and grievance lodged in June, posters continued to be seen by our members in Edinburgh and Glasgow until only a few weeks ago.

“While the organisation has now agreed to remove the posters, their damaging and inaccurate messaging has been visible throughout this period.

“We urge our members to continue to bring false claims to our attention and we will act, where we can, on their behalf.”