Vegan advert on pigs banned for being ‘misleading’ in the UK
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a “misleading” cinema advert from vegan campaign group Viva! that claimed 90% of pigs are factory farmed.
In a ruling that followed a complaint from the National Pig Association (NPA), the advertising watchdog delivered a clear message to Viva! to ensure any future adverts don’t mislead the public over how animals are kept in “intensive farming environments”.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies described the ruling as a “fantastic result for the pig industry”.
The NPA and seven members of the public complained after the advert was shown in cinemas in December 2017 before blockbuster films Jumanji and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Subsequent footage showed pigs indoors behind the bars of a pen, and in a very crowded pen. The voiceover stated: “It’s something most pigs will never know as 90% are factory farmed. Set them all free. Try vegan.”
Three complaints were made, two of which were upheld. ASA upheld the complaint that the advert was misleading because it featured farming methods no longer allowed in the UK.
Viva! said the “intensive farming footage” was all taken on UK farms and showed the rack, which it maintained was used legally on most UK pig farms when sows were artificially inseminated.
It pointed out that the dark lighting and close-up and brief nature of some of the footage meant it was not clear why pigs were being accommodated in the way shown or for how long.
But, in reality, as shown by Defra guidance, the indoor conditions shown would not be in line with how pigs that live indoors are kept.
ASA also upheld the complaint that the claim ‘90% of pigs are factory farmed’. Viva! cited AHDB figures dating back to 2008 to claim more than 90% of pigs spent their lives inside.
Viva! cited AHDB figures dating back to 2008 to claim less than 8% of pigs were “outside for at least the first part of their lives”. In fact, the overall percentage of pigs outside in the UK in any one year was likely to be lower.
But the ASA said the claim was “likely to mislead” as it implied that the vast majority of pigs farmed in the UK were restricted to the indoors and never experienced the outside.
A third complaint that the advert contained content which was “likely to cause distress without justifiable reason” was not upheld.
The ASA said the advert “must not appear again in the form complained of” and told Viva! to ensure its adverts “did not mislead about, for example, how animals would be accommodated in intensive farming environments”.
Davies welcomed the “pragmatic decision taken by the ASA”, adding: “I complained to the ASA because the British pig industry refuses to ignore groups making misleading and damaging claims about how our pigs are produced.
“Equally importantly, it is wrong to say pigs kept inside for some or all of their lives are ‘factory farmed’.
Indoor rearing does not inevitably equate to ‘intensive’ production which equally does not necessarily equate to poor welfare.
“NPA hopes this ruling will discourage others from attempting this kind of dishonest campaigning in future,” the NPA chief executive said.