Vegan TV ad banned after complaints of causing ‘distress’ to audience

Author: Molly Pickering

Read Time:   |  8th June 2022

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ASA bans Vegan Friendly UK TV ad after receiving 63 complaints about showing graphic imagery of distressed animals and "vilifying meat-eater"


The Advertising Standard Agency (ASA) has banned a vegan TV ad for showing ‘distressing’ imagery of farmed animals.

Vegan Friendly UK’s advert, which first aired in March, aimed to draw attention to the hypocrisy of some meat-eater’s attitudes towards animal welfare.

In the advert, three friends are seen tucking into plates of food such as beef burgers and fish and chips, while discussing animal welfare problems like plastic straws and bullfighting.

The advert cuts to clips of distressed fish on a conveyor belt gasping for air before being gutted and a mother pig comforting her piglet before she is slaughtered.

In between gluttonous mouthfuls, the ad cuts to close-ups of the terrified animals and our ears are confronted with the sounds of screaming creatures.

Moreover, the ad ends with the tagline “Make the Connection”.

Since the vegan ad aired, ASA received 63 complaints from the public.

Issues raised by the public included the use of graphic imagery of distressed animals “which caused unnecessary distress to viewers”.

Additionally, some complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive because it vilified meat-eaters, while others questioned if the ad was scheduled appropriately.

“Invited viewers to connect the products being eaten with the animals themselves”

British advertising organisation Clearcast defended the vegan TV ad, saying they did not find the imagery in the ad to be over-graphic and re-iterated that the clips featured in the ad were not dissimilar to what would be seen in a cookery or farming programme.

In addition, Clearcast confirmed that they did not think the ad vilified meat-eaters but invited viewers to connect the products being eaten with the animals themselves.

ASA concluded that: “Whilst some of the images were not inherently graphic or violent, we considered that some of the clips shown were likely to cause distress.

“We noted that the quick succession of clips shown throughout the ad, and the juxtaposition between the adults eating and the animal imagery, would heighten the distress felt by viewers.”

While the advertising board ruled that the ad breached BCAP rules, it did not uphold the complaint that the ad vilified meat-eaters.

Furthermore, the ad will no longer appear on TV and Vegan Friendly UK has been told to ” avoid using imagery which was likely to cause distress to both younger and adult audiences.”

Want to read more? Read our top tip on how to go vegan

Feature image source: Clip taken from Vegan Friendly UK ‘Make the Connection’ ad

Written by

Molly Pickering

Molly is the Digital Executive and former podcast host at Anthem's Vegan Food & Living, she also works across other titles including Women's Running and Classic Pop to create affiliate content for the website. Starting out as a Digital Marketing Apprentice at Vegan Food & Living in 2021, within 14 months Molly was shortlisted for ‘Best Editorial Assistant’ at the BSME Talent Awards 2022 and won the BCS Special Recognition award for Digital Marketing Apprentice of the Year in 2022

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