Oct 112013

As the Home Office trembles under the criticism of the Advertising Standards Authority ‘s (ASA) latest adjudication, Duncan Harley reports on one aspect of the Home Office’s campaign against illegal immigrants.

home office billboard3

The ASA received a total of 224 complaints related to the Home Office billboards.

The ASA has yet again proved itself to be a toothless tiger in the relentless quest for fairness and honesty in public domain advertising in the UK.
Most of the media are reporting that Home Office vans, replete with slogans on the sides proclaiming ‘go home or face arrest’ and ‘106 arrests last week in your area’, which were driven around six London boroughs earlier this year, have been banned by the ASA.

The facts, however, say otherwise.

The boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Hounslow were targeted by the Home Office campaign in July 2013 and advised readers, ‘We can help you to return home voluntarily without fear of arrest or detention’.

The posters were criticised by many, on the basis that the wording was likely to spread fear and unrest. Others such as Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper warned that the campaign was reminiscent of the 1970s National Front approach to racial tolerance, whilst some others viewed it as a throwback to the dark days of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood rhetoric of 1968.

Be that as it may, the campaign to persuade illegal immigrants to phone the Home Office to give themselves up drew extensive media attention from the outset and the resulting complaints to the ASA show that at the very least, some people in the UK see the advertising watchdog as a force for fairness in the face of misleading marketing campaigns.

Promogroup, the company who owned the vans on which the Home Office displayed the posters, also received a number of complaints about the campaign during its pilot week. Illustrative perhaps of how misleading the information on the posters might seem to some, Promogroup itself received several phone calls from illegal immigrants wishing to give themselves up.

reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups

The company has not to date revealed whether or not any of its drivers received surrender requests from concerned pedestrians during the week-long campaign.

The ASA received a total of 224 complaints related to this issue. These were from groups representing migrants in the UK, legal academics, members of the public and the Labour peer Lord Lipsey. Complainants challenged

  1.  whether or not the poster and in particular the phrase ‘go home’ was offensive and distressing because it was reminiscent of slogans used by racist groups to attack immigrants in the past.
  2.  whether or not the poster was irresponsible and harmful, because it could incite or exacerbate racial hatred and tensions in multicultural communities.
  3.  whether or not the claim ‘106 arrests last week in your area’ was misleading and could be substantiated.
  4.  whether or not the qualification regarding the areas the arrests occurred in was presented clearly, because it was not legible on a moving vehicle
  5.  whether or not the poster was misleading, because it implied that arrest was the automatic consequence of remaining in the UK without permission.

In response to the complaints made to the ASA, the Home Office claimed the posters were part of a pilot scheme run between 22 and 28 July 2013 which sought to encourage those with no legal right to be in the UK to depart voluntarily and to increase awareness of the voluntary departure route. It added that the material was similar in tone and content to previous material it had produced on voluntary departures.

The mobile billboards in question were part of the pilot which covered targeted areas and were designed to improve awareness of local immigration enforcement activity, so that those with no legal right to be in UK were made aware that there was a real and present risk of being arrested.

The campaign had targeted six London boroughs which the Home Office claimed have either significantly above average, or very low, uptake of the voluntary departure route for illegal immigrants.

Additionally, the pilot scheme was, said the Home Office, designed to test the media used and to identify which areas produced the highest response rate, to target specific areas where illegal immigrants or people seeking work illegally were known to congregate, and high streets.

there is nothing to prevent the government using the vans again

As for the 106 arrests issue, the Home Office supplied the ASA with data claiming that there had indeed been that number of arrests made in the areas targeted and elsewhere during a typical week preceding the campaign, that is, the week of 30 June to 6 July 2013.

The Home Office response also made the point that the poster did not suggest that arrest was an automatic consequence of remaining in the UK without permission, since voluntary departure was a viable alternative.

The ASA’s judgement of the complainants’ objections took the form of an individual response to each of the five points of complaint outlined above.

On point 1, the complaints were not upheld and in conclusion, the adjudicators felt that the poster was unlikely to cause widespread offence or distress.

On point 2, the complaints were not upheld and in conclusion the adjudicators felt that the there was no content likely to condone or encourage racial violence or anti-social behaviour.

On point 3, the ASA upheld the complaints on the basis that the figure of arrests had not been substantiated and had not related to the specific areas targeted in the pilot campaign.

On point 4, the complaints were upheld.

On point 5, the complaints were not upheld on the basis that the adjudicators viewed the risk of arrest to those living in the UK illegally was indeed real and that the posters offered information about an alternative option of a voluntary return home.

In summary therefore, two out of five complaints were upheld and the judgment is that the advert must not appear again in its current form.

The message to Her Majesty’s Home Office is quite clearly to do better in future or face the mighty wrath of the ASA!

Providing the Home Office reviews its use of font sizes and does some rudimentary checking of published statistics, there is nothing to prevent the government using the vans again and it has refused so far to rule out doing so. A government spokesman said:

We are pleased the ASA has concluded that our pilot was neither offensive nor irresponsible.

We have always been clear that this campaign was about encouraging illegal immigrants to leave the country voluntarily and was not targeted at particular racial or ethnic groups. In respect of the ASA’s other findings, we can confirm that the poster will not be used again in its current format.”

As for the ASA, the adjudication has been delivered but it will no doubt require to re-examine the issues should HM Government roll out a second campaign. On its website, the ASA claims to have sanctions available to persuade advertisers to comply with the Advertising Industry Code of Conduct.

The ASA advises that the vast majority of advertisers and broadcasters comply with ASA rulings and that for the small minority who don’t, there are consequences. The main aim is to bring about compliance with the Advertising Codes, it says, rather than punish advertisers. However, some of the sanctions at its disposal can, it seems, be very detrimental to those who choose not to comply.

The ASA claims that one of the most persuasive sanctions it has in its armoury is bad publicity, since an advertiser’s reputation can be badly damaged if it is seen to be flouting rules designed to protect consumers. Presumably the Home Office will be trembling at the thought of further damage to its already tarnished reputation.

The full ASA/Home Office adjudication can be read at: http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2013/10/Home-Office/SHP_ADJ_237331.aspx?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_term=&utm_content=Home%20Office&utm_campaign=2012%20Wednesday%20Rulings

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Jul 262013

Suzanne Kelly gets to grips with the week that was with relevant definitions.

Bells rang out across the land; families cheered; flags were waved in celebration; couples kissed in the streets.  The happy news swept the world; the twittersphere nearly exploded.  I’m sure we will all remember where we were the happy day Ian Tallboys collected another award for the forest created on Tullos Hill. Hip hip hooray.

Yes, it’s good news again – Tullos Hill has won another award  http://www.scotsman.com/tullos-hill-wood-commended.  Chris Piper and Ranger Bigboy, who proudly collected the award, are captured in a moving article and beautiful photo, even more beautiful than Tullos Hill is at present.

Weeds choke many of the new trees, saplings are planted amid household and industrial rubble in stony soil, the deer are gone – but it’s award worthy in this state all the same.

Pete Leonard should be told that various ‘garden escapee’ flowers still manage to grow on the hill; he made it clear he had no time for the field of Dame’s Violets which used to cover the hill. No doubt he’ll want the remaining stragglers eradicated.

There is no news yet on the original proposal to make Tullos Hill’s future forest pay its way by producing timber. I hope they’re not holding their breath (or do I?).  For some reason the phrase ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’ springs to mind.

There are however actually signs of growth on the trees at St Fitticks.  Soon some of them will be as tall as the surrounding weeds; tall enough to be hit by the salt spray from the North Sea and be hit by the 90+ mph winds we sometimes get.

Thankfully the deer are all gone/shot/culled, so it’s only the soil, salt spray, strong winds and a few random vandals that stand in the way of us having a forest (on a spot where Mother Nature had somehow not planted one before we did – I wonder why?). What could possibly go wrong?  (note – in fairness there are a few positives as well as a number of negatives regarding the current Tullos Hill ‘state–obviously not for deer though.

More on the state of the hill will be forthcoming. Thanks to everyone who came on our picnic last Sunday and congratulations to our experts on yet another award.

While we’ve had those Tallstoryboys winning awards, there has sadly been a spate of bad boys lately too. Naughty councillors, apoplectic security guards and profane beer brewers all made this week’s local news.

Advertising Standards Agency: (modern Eng. noun) An organisation set up to oversee advertisements for accuracy and profanity.

It would be remiss of me to ignore that the ASA have deemed some of BrewDog’s website copy offensive. The use of the word f*ck (among other words) on the BD website was totally criminal, unacceptable, offensive, immoral and the rest of it.  No doubt they had planned to turn the paragraphs in question from a small blurb amongst hundreds of other small blurbs on their page into tshirts, an MTV video, and a tv series.

The whole world would have been offended. I’m very glad the ASA folks nipped this in the bud, or tried to.  And to think I used to believe the ASA were feckless.

The ASA knows what it’s doing and fearlessly pursues those who advertise falsely or offensively. Mind you, they were no help regarding the Union Terrace Gardens referendum. I’d been among complainers to the ASA and OFCOM about the content of the pro web adverts. Believe it or not, the promises for the web almost seemed too good to be true, but then I’m a touch cynical on occasion.

The ASA wrote to me advising they had no power over all the ads and propaganda that appeared about the granite web.

They said their hands were tied – they could not challenge claims the web would mean billions of pounds flowing into the city for hundreds of years, the green space would double magically, or that 6,000 desirable permanent well-paid jobs came with the web, and it wasn’t going to cost the taxpayer anything at all ever. I guess these claims sounded realistic or that the ASA didn’t want to get involved.

Yet while the ASA shied away,  OFCOM stepped up to the plate – after the referendum vote had taken place of course.

at the rate we’re going, the entire shire will be under concrete soon

Anyway, I’m glad the ASA team have sprung on this meaty topic.  It must have been boring, trying to get energy company advertisements to give reliable, truthful information on energy pricing, or look at all the truthful, verifiable, legaly ads appearing on Facebook. Way to go.

Doing a bit further research, I note there have been similar f-word issues. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed. BrewDog’s been smacked across its collective nose with a rolled up newspaper (possibly the Evening Express) for writing ‘f*ck’ on its website, while at the same time, French Connection U.K.  remain, understandably, free to ‘FCUK’ around. I hope we can all appreciate the distinction between the two cases.

Skateboarders: (mod Eng. plural noun) A youth subculture based around urban landscape two-wheel transport.

I feel sorry for our local skateboarders; they would have been the true beneficiaries of any granite web. Mind you, at the rate we’re going, the entire shire will be under concrete soon, and ideal for skating.

Most skaters do their thing without bothering people. Clearly two young boarders got under the skin of an oil business security guard. In a Facebook Video, the man loses his temper spectacularly.

Was the guard taunted?  Was it persistent annoyance from the boys? We don’t know. We do know our heroic guard used language the ASA would have had issues with, and chased the kids away – while chasing them down the public street, threatening GBH. Alas! the company in question has faulty phone lines, and could not discuss the incident when a concerned FB reader rang about the incident.

Rumours suggesting the guard’s being poached by Malone to work security at Trumpland remain unconfirmed.

Martin Ford: (Proper name)  Aberdeenshire Councillor.

Who’s been a naughty boy then? Cllr. Ford is in the doghouse, facing the charge of being a councillor giving an interview to the media on council property concerning council issues. The supreme commander, aka chief Executive Colin MacKenzie and nemesis Cllr. Gifford are out for Ford’s head on a platter for this.

MacKenzie summoned Ford by letter to a meeting, somewhat like the principal sending a letter to your teacher summoning you to the principal’s office. How dare Ford give an interview at the council without getting a hall pass first? MacKenzie would have us believe that any and all interviews must be vetted and approved by him in advance if they happen to involve councillors talking when at the council.

Old Susannah’s written to get answers to a few questions – It’s just as well that every one of Cllr. Ford’s peers has behaved impeccably at all times.

I asked the complainers to answer a few simple questions for me:- where is the procedure set down for giving interviews; how many requests to conduct interviews were made; how many approved or disallowed; and what would the august Chief Executive who hands out the permission slips do if he himself wants to give a media interview?

When they answer me, I’ll let you know. Until then, it’s the naughty step for Martin Ford. After all, we can’t have people going around using their positions in unauthorised fashion.

It might be useful to juxtapose this anger over the use of council offices by a councillor with how the Scottish Enterprise logo and footage of Jennifer Craw got into the promo video made to convince us that Trump was the future.

Things are just a little different in Aberdeen City Council

I remember seeing this video presented by George Sorial himself at a town hall style meeting years ago. I got in touch with SE asap to find out whether this was an endorsement and if permission had been given to use this footage.

They coyly replied that permission had not been given to use the SE logo, which clearly implied that this government quango were in favour of Trump. Which of course they were; they’d spent taxpayer money on the promo DVD made to sell Balmedie to investors. Did Craw get hauled in to explain her presence in the film?  Did SE make a protest and clear the air, saying they gave no permission? Definitely not.

Clearly this kind of propaganda is allowed; Ford talking to reporters in the shire’s hallowed offices is, of course, just wrong.

Things are just a little different in Aberdeen City Council.  Old Susannah’s been to more than a few big meetings there now, and the funny thing is, after major votes, the councillors and waiting media just meet up and speak wherever and about whatever they want on council premises. It’s almost as if there is nothing wrong with councillors telling the public where they stand.

Next week: more on the city of culture bid submission, which I’m still forcing myself to read.

I had to stop at the ‘gigs on rigs’ bit; it was too exciting. Leaving aside the great-sounding, hip, happening concept title ‘gigs on rigs (which doesn’t at all sound like an idea scrawled on the back of an envelope after a long dinner), I am not really sure how this was going to work. First there is the fact the ‘city of culture’ was not really meant to be an ‘oil rig of culture’ hundreds of miles offshore.

For some reason, oil rigs are protected by the highest levels of security and the inherent safety issues with access dependent on weather conditions. Would your average band want to fly out to the middle of the North Sea to spend an evening?

Then there was the small matter of where these concerts were to be beamed in town, what acts would play (Toto? The Beautiful South? Deacon Blue?), and how we’d cope with the massive influx of visitors and the ticket demand for people who’d come to Aberdeen to go to local venues to watch offshore gigs on rigs. This could have been our own Glastonbury.

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May 092013

By Duncan Harley.

It’s not just Donald Trump who gets into trouble for using misleading advertising (see Tilting at Windmills – Aberdeen Voice 18th April 2013). The Advertising Standards Authority investigates complaints on an ongoing basis.

In 2011, for example, they dealt with 31,458 complaints and investigated each of these to see if they seemed to breach the rules. As a result, over 4,590 adverts were changed or withdrawn.

Whether you are the boss of FCUK branded clothing or even Prince Charles the rules are there to be adhered to in the name of protecting the public from misleading advertising claims.

In essence the ASA’s role is to monitor and regulate the content of advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing in the UK by investigating complaints and deciding whether such advertising complies with the UK advertising standards codes.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) website claims that:

“The Advertising Standards Authority is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media. We apply the Advertising Codes, which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice. Our work includes acting on complaints and proactively checking the media to take action against misleading, harmful or offensive advertisements.”

Set up in 1962 and funded by a levy on the advertising industry the ASA is the first port of call if you find an advert misleading or offensive.  Anyone can refer a complaint and the online complaints form on the ASA website is very simple to complete.

The ASA has a range of sanctions at its disposal as Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd found out when they were ordered to “not to make claims unless they could be substantiated with robust evidence and not to use misleading imagery”, after 21 complaints were received regarding an advert featuring a US wind farm plus a reference to “the release of terrorist al-Megrahi “for humane reasons” – after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan-Am 103 over Lockerbie”.

Publicity in the form of numerous press articles appeared regarding this adjudication and although some marketing theorists may claim that even bad publicity is good publicity, it might well be said that the Trump advert raised concerns in Scotland about the interference of a foreign national in Scottish renewable energy policy making.

The ASA can also refer problematic broadcast advertisers to Ofcom

Apart from the negative publicity generated by the weekly ASA adjudication lists, the Authority can order advertisers not to advertise unless the CAP Copy Advice team has seen the advertisement first and allowed the advertisement to go ahead.

For example, the ASA told French Connection UK Ltd, which makes the FCUK branded clothing, to have all its advertisements pre-vetted by the CAP Copy Advice team.

The ASA can also refer problematic broadcast advertisers to Ofcom and if the ASA has trouble with a repeat offender, it can refer the matter to the OFT under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988.

Following more than 1,300 complaints to the ASA about the shopping channel Auction World.tv, the ASA referred the matter to Ofcom and the shopping channel went into administration following a £450,000 fine.

Mind you, both Trump and Auction World.tv are in good company alongside a wide variety of advertisers who have been deemed by the ASA to have misled the public.  This weeks ASA adjudication list includes upheld decision’s  regarding an ad for ”Dead Sea Kit”, a product that purported to remove wrinkles and featured text which claimed to unlock the secrets of anti-aging.

Cash Lady was similarly chastised for advertising pay day loans at a representative APR 2670% in misleading and socially irresponsible manner. The ad included the voice-over claim: “You could see your bank and fill in loads of forms, but there is an easier way to get a loan; check out www.cashlady.co.uk, with cash lady it’s simple to apply for up to £300. It’s dead fast too”.

In 2009 the ASA banned an Israeli tourism advert following over 400 complaints by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and members of the public after a map in the advert showed the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

The adverts read “There is probably no God”

In the same year Nestlé’s claim that it markets infant formula “ethically and responsibly” was found to be unsupported in the face of evidence provided by the campaigning group Baby Milk Action.

Perhaps one of the oddest complaints to come under scrutiny was the Atheist Bus Campaign in which Atheist groups aimed to place “peaceful and upbeat messages about atheism” on the side of London buses in response to “evangelical Christian advertising”.

The adverts read “There is probably no God” which prompted complaints from folk who no doubt thought that there probably is a god. Some of the complainants claimed that the advert was “offensive and derogatory to people of faith, who faced the prospect of having to decide if God existed in order to rule on the complaint.”

In a master stroke of diplomacy the ASA ruled that the advert:

“was an expression of the advertiser’s opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation.

“Although the ASA acknowledges that the content of the ad would be at odds with the beliefs of many, it concluded that it was unlikely to mislead or to cause serious or widespread offence.”

Diplomacy however was not in order when in march 2009, Prince Charles came under heavy fire when his Duchy Herbals Detox Tincture became subject to complaints and ridicule.

The claims to be able to detox the body and aid digestion when one or two drops are added to a glass of water were challenged and the product, which contains dandelion and artichoke, was variously described as “implausible, unproven and dangerous” by Professor Edzard Ernst of Exeter University and “outright quackery” by some others.

After investigation the complaint was upheld and the prince’s company Duchy Originals was told in no uncertain terms not to make misleading claims which it could not substantiate. The press were less kind and headlines such as “Make-believe and outright quackery – expert’s verdict on prince’s detox potion” appeared in the Guardian.

Next time you see an advert for an instant baldness cure or a land grab by some foreign state, you might like to take the time to consider filling in the online complaints form on the Advertising Standards website. After all, its you the public who are being misled.


Prince Charles accused of quackery: http://www.guardian/prince-charles-detox-tincture
Advertising Standards Authority: http://www.asa.org.uk/About-ASA.aspx
Snake oil: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil

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Apr 182013

By Duncan Harley.

When Donald Trump bought the Menie Estate just outside Aberdeen, he may have thought he could ride roughshod over the people of Scotland and to a great extent it appears that he has so far succeeded.

Depending of course on your viewpoint, an SSSI has been converted into a luxury golf course leaving only a coastal strip of sand dunes as testament to the habitat which had existed on the Aberdeen coastline for thousands of years.

Environmentalist’s arguments seemed to have proved useless against the promise of wealth and jobs in the oil capital of Europe where unemployment runs at only about 2% but where those who make decisions about these things look to a future when “the oil will run out”.

Mr Trump is now challenging Scotland’s renewable energy policy vowing to bring a lawsuit to halt a 230 million pound ($349 million) wind farm development, consisting of 11 wind turbines, planned off the coast near Aberdeen in Scotland.

The output from the offshore scheme is estimated at up to 100MW and over twelve months would be capable of yielding, on average, enough clean, green electricity to power the equivalent of over 68,000 UK households according to Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd (AOWFL) – a joint venture between Swedish Energy Company Vattenfall and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG), a consortium of local business and university groups.

The National Record Office for Scotland estimated the number of households in the city in 2011 to be 103,843 which makes this groundbreaking scheme an attractive proposition to those who see offshore wind energy as a way forward.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish energy minister on announcing the go ahead for the scheme told journalists that:

 “Offshore renewables represent a huge opportunity for Scotland, an opportunity to build up new industries and to deliver on our ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction targets. The proposed European offshore wind deployment centre will give the industry the ability to test and demonstrate new technologies in order to accelerate its growth. [It] secures Aberdeen’s place as the energy capital of Europe.”

In response to the announcement of the go ahead by the Scottish Government Donald Trump, head of Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd, said:

“We will spend whatever monies are necessary to see to it that these huge and unsightly industrial wind turbines are never constructed,”

The rhetoric seems familiar somehow. Prior to his appearance in front of the Scottish Government Economy Energy and Tourism Committee in 2012 he was quoted as saying that there was not a shred of evidence that turbines benefit the environment. During a press conference following this hearing he told journalists that:

“If Alex Salmond was smart, he would stop right now because what he’s doing to Scotland is terrible. This is the same thing as al-Megrahi, when they let him out of prison because he would die in two weeks. And guess what, he was running around the park last week”

Many Scots were however bemused when in December 2012 a full page advertisement appeared in some regional newspapers featuring an image of a Californian wind farm next to a US freeway and a photo of First Minister Alex Salmond, the suggestion being  that these were in some way linked.

The full page advert, dated 14th December 2012, also appeared to link the Lockerbie terrorist bombing with the Scottish Governments policy on renewable energy and asked “Is this the future for Scotland?” Readers were urged to “Take action. Write, demonstrate and protest Alex Salmond”.

Some suspected left wing anti capitalist rhetoric and others wondered if April 1st had come early.

However on close inspection, tucked away in the corner of the page was an indication that the advert had been placed by a local golf course. Trump International Golf Links Scotland no less!

The full text of the advert reads:

Is this the future for Scotland?
Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy!
This is the same mind that backed the release of terrorist al-Megrahi
“for humane reasons” — after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan-Am 103 over Lockerbie.
“Take action. Write, demonstrate and protest Alex Salmond”

For many the Lockerbie link was particularly offensive. Not only was the claim that 270 people were killed on Pan-Am 103 over Lockerbie inaccurate, the correct figure is 259 plus the eleven residents of Lockerbie who were killed on the ground, but the use of the tragedy to bolster an argument against renewable energy seemed frankly quite wrong particularly since the anniversary of the 1988 bombing falls on 21st December just a week after the adverts publication.

Scottish Green MSP Patrick Harvie was quick to label the Trump comments as sick saying:

“Trump has sunk to a new low”


“Trump’s organisation has already trashed a unique environment on the coast of Aberdeenshire and trampled on the rights of local people, now he appears to be determined to buy up chunks of the Scottish press.”

Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the 1988 bombing, said the murders had “no place in a confrontation between an entrepreneur who is interested in making money in Scotland and the government”.

This was not the first time the Trump organisation had attracted criticism following the placing of adverts in the Scottish press.

Complaints about a previous advert had been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) with Trump being warned “not to exaggerate the number of turbines likely to be installed or the possible consequences of the Scottish Governments plans to use wind turbines”.

This followed a regional press advert dated 19th September 2012 for Communities Against Turbines Scotland, and was headed “Welcome to Scotland!” above a photograph of broken and rusty wind turbines with text stating, “Alex Salmond wants to build 8,750 of these monstrosities – just think about it! Join us in Edinburgh for a march and a rally.”

Inevitably the ASA were again faced with complaints, 21 in all, about the new advertisement.

The grounds for complaint centred around three topics.

  1.  That tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy.
  2.  The image of turbines overlooking an American freeway was misleading.
  3.  The references to al-Megrahi and the Lockerbie bombing were inappropriate and likely to cause offence.

On point one, despite Trump International’s argument that they had secured clearance from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) for the advert, the ASA found that the complaint was upheld since the statement that tourism would suffer could not be substantiated. The statement in the advert breached the rules on grounds of misleading advertising and substantiation.

On point two, the ASA considered that the image alongside the claim “tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy” implied that the wind turbines overlooking an American freeway was representative of a proposed wind farm in Scotland.

In the absence of evidence that this was the case, they upheld the complaint and concluded that it was misleading. The image breached the rules on grounds of misleading advertising and substantiation.

On point three, the ASA considered that the claim “This is the same mind that backed the release of terrorist al-Megrahi “for humane reasons” — after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan-Am 103 over Lockerbie.” drew attention to the Lockerbie bombing in order to comment on Alex Salmond’s policies on renewable energies.

However they considered that readers were likely to find this distasteful rather than offensive and judged that the claim did not breach the advertising standards code.

In conclusion, the Advertising Standards Authority state:

“The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd not to make claims unless they could be substantiated with robust evidence and not to use misleading imagery.”

A victory for truth and democracy? Perhaps we shall have to wait and see.

As a footnote, it is noteworthy that the Aberdeen Press and Journal, one of the two Scottish newspapers to publish the Trump advert, carried a follow up news item the day after entitled “Trumps turbines link to Lockerbie ‘sick'”, and quoting the Trump Organisation ex -vice president George Sorial as saying that he had “wanted the content” of the advert “to be much stronger because Scotland is facing an economic and environmental meltdown if wind turbines are not stopped”.

Don Quixote would have been hard put to make sense of it all. Perhaps, however, time is running out for Trump.


Offshore Turbines Aberdeen Bay: http://www.vattenfall.co.uk/en/aberdeen-bay.htm
Lockerbie Bomb: http://lockerbiecase.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/jim-swire-criticises-donald-trump-over.html
The Trump on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump
Scottish Parliament Trump Submission: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-17837110
and: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/25/donald-trump-appearance-scottish-parliament
Advertising Standards Authority: http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2012/9/The-Trump-Organization-LLC/SHP_ADJ_195478.aspx

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Sep 212012

By Bob Smith. 

The Donald’s noo bin telt
Yer advert wi div deplore
Showin some rottin win turbines
Fit warna near Scotia’s shore

The advert wis misleadin
Says fowk fae the ASA
The photo wis o turbines
In 50th state o theUSA

Noo Trumpie he protested
Sayin we telt far t’wis teen
The affa sma print in the advert
Suggestit it wisna near Aiberdeen

Na Na min said the billies
Fa look intae sic like capers
Ye shudna hae pit it in
The bliddy local papers

Dinna dare use it ony mair
Weel nae in it’s preesint form
Use photos of turbine types
Nearer tae Scotland’s norm

Noo iss begs the simple question
Fit wye the P&J printed the ad
There is advertisin standards
Tae be adhered tae in iss land

Nae doot the auld excuse
Eence mair will be trottit oot
We took the advert in good faith
An it brocht us some mair loot

So fit noo Donald we maun ask
Tae the ASA wull ye buckle?
Ye dinna like bein telt fit tae dee
An gittin rappit ower the knuckles

Iss turbines row is biggin up tae be
A fecht wi Eck, Trump’s auld bosom pal
Wull it be  a showdoon at dawn
Like the “Gunfecht at the OK Corral”

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2012