ASA raps animal charity ad featuring British troops

The advertising watchdog has uphold a complaint against an animal charity ad as misleading for suggesting British serviceman could benefit from donations.

The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) ran a press ad showing an Afghan, a donkey and a British soldier. The headline read “Saving her life means his just got easier” and accompanying text said that the well-being of animals was vital to farming families in the country and “hearts and minds can be won over by simple, practical help”.

The ad went on to say Spana could provide that help via veterinary training and “Ultimately, our brave British serviceman and women can benefit from the care which you help us provide.”

Complainants challenged whether the claim troops could benefit from the help was misleading and also whether the ad was offensive and exploited British troops to get donations.

Spana says that the small-scale veterinary programme was initiated by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 2009 in Helmand province as part of a hearts and minds initiative and it had been approached to expand the programme through provision of targeted veterinary training.

It argued that improved relations with rural Afghans would lessen Taliban influence and that the Ministry of Defence had approved the creative and wording of the ad.

The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) said that the claim that that troops could benefit from donations would be understood by consumers to mean that any money donated “would directly assist British servicemen and women” and was misleading.

However, the ASA did not uphold claims of exploitation or offensiveness, as the MoD had approved the copy and the aim of the scheme was to improve relations between Afghans and British serviceman.

Jeremy Hulme, chief executive of Spana, says: “We’re disappointed with the ruling, especially as we thought the fact that the British army approached Spana to assist with their operation in the first place would demonstrate that we we’re supporting the work of our troops.

“However, we do accept that the ASA finds it hard to see any direct link between our work in Afghanistan and any improvement in the conditions of our troops as there are so many contributing factors. We are pleased that the ASA did not believe our advertisement to be exploitative or offensive as our intention has only ever been to provide positive support to animals and to people.

“We can confirm that the advertisements will be changed in accordance with the ruling.”

Latest from Marketing Week

NOT REGISTERED? IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here