Published On: Wed, Mar 6th, 2019

Advertising Standards Authority rejects complaints about vegan billboard advert

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected complaints made against vegan charity Viva!’s TRASH billboard advert after members of the public challenged the claim that 95,000 male calves are shot each year by the dairy industry. 

vegan billboard adverts complaints rejected

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected complaints regarding vegan campaigning charity Viva!’s TRASH billboard advert after receiving complaints challenging whether the 95,000 male calves figure could be substantiated.

The billboard ran for six weeks in October and November 2018 and showed an image of a young bull calf alongside the text “95,000 Male Calves Shot in a Year – The Dairy Industry’s TRASH” in a bid to raise awareness of the forgotten victims of the dairy industry.

Over the six week period, the billboards were estimated to reach 8.7 million people in the Birmingham and London areas.

vegan billboard adverts complaints rejected

Viva! provided irrefutable evidence which substantiated the claim by submitting a report by the Cattle Health and Welfare Group which clearly stated that in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available, 497,000 male calves were born but only 392,000 were registered. This resulted in 95,000 unregistered male calves killed on-farm.

Viva! also supplied evidence from the Farm Animal Welfare Committee which confirmed that male calves are ‘euthanised’ by shooting. The statistic had been confirmed in a report by The Guardian and in a BBC interview with David George of the National Farmers’ Union. The presenter asked Mr George is it true that 95,000 calves are shot in the head every year?” to which Mr George responded, “I’m afraid it is, yes”.

The ASA concluded that the advert was not misleading and that consumers would understand that the given figure was the most recent figure available at the time. The advertising authority went on to agree that the evidence supplied was sufficiently robust.

Discussing the ASA’s decision, Juliet Gellatley, Viva! founder and director stated:

“We are thrilled that the ASA has carefully considered our evidence and concluded that the advert is not misleading. This complaint was submitted in an attempt to weaken our campaign and to mislead the public about the barbaric practices which are still very much present across the UK dairy industry.

Interestingly, the complainant did not challenge whether male calves are seen as useless by-products or whether they are killed so humans can consume their mother’s milk. Instead, they focused on our choice of statistic which proves just how strong our message is.

This victory comes as Februdairy draws to a close – another attempt by the dairy industry to combat the rise of veganism. Thankfully, the public are opening their eyes to the reality of the dairy industry and more people are opting out of animal cruelty and choosing to go dairy-free. There has truly never been a better time to go vegan!”

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