Mobile phone shock ads risk backlash

German mobile phone manufacturer Hagenuk is using alarmist images, which trade on unproven fears that mobiles can harm the brain through radiation emissions, in a controversial new advertising campaign.

An Advertising Standards Association spokesman says the company would have to prove its radiation damage claims in case of a complaint. “We would discourage alarmist advertising,” he says.

Hagenuk is positioning its phones on a “safety” angle. The company claims the integrated antenna on its phone makes it safer to use than other models, and claims the design enables the majority of radiation to be diverted away from the head.

The ads use anti-nuclear logos and scans of human brains but the company denies it is employing any sort of scare tactics.

“When you use a mobile phone it gives off electro-magnetic radiation. This is the phone that shields the most radiation from the head,” says a spokesman.

But mobile phone experts have branded the campaign “irresponsible”. Trade magazine What Mobile has refused the ads saying they are alarmist and that there is no evidence that mobile phones can harm the brain.

“There is no scientific proof that mobile phone radiation is or is not harmful,” says editor Simon Rockman.

He adds that several phone manufacturers have developed systems which are more effective than the Hagenuk in diverting radiation from the head, but all have marketed phones on convenience issues rather than safety.

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