Vegan Friendly UK ad banned over graphic images of animals in distress

·2-min read
An image from the Vegan Friendly UK ad banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. (ASA/PA)
An image from the Vegan Friendly UK ad banned by the Advertising Standards Authority. (ASA/PA)

A TV ad for the organisation Vegan Friendly UK has been banned after it drew complaints about its graphic images of animals in distress alongside people eating.

The ad, seen in March, showed two women and one man eating around a table as well as clips of a fish head which was still gasping for air, a live piglet alongside a pig with its eyes closed and a cow’s face which appeared to have tears coming from its eye.

A further clip showed a cow’s skinned head with its eyes and teeth still present lying on its side.

As those at the table continued to eat, text stated: “No animal was harmed, consumed, or purchased to make this advert,” followed by the text: “Make the connection.”

The ad was given a restriction preventing it from being transmitted in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to children under 16.

We concluded that the ad was likely to cause distress to both younger and adult audiences and therefore was not suitable for broadcast on TV

Advertising Standards Authority

The Advertising Standards Authority received 63 complaints, including that the ad contained gratuitous violence towards animals, which caused unnecessary distress to viewers.

Vegan Friendly UK said the clips used in the ad did not portray actions of violence or harm and that such imagery was seen regularly in butchers’ or fishmongers’ windows on the average UK high street.

They clarified that the aim of the ad was to encourage those meat eaters who were against animal cruelty to reconsider their actions, adding that they believed that their ad did not vilify meat eaters but “promoted love and compassion for all beings and discouraged discrimination against other sentient beings”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) noted that both Clearcast and Vegan Friendly UK understood that the imagery shown in the ad was akin to what viewers could expect to see in cookery programmes or on the high street when walking past a butcher’s shop or fishmonger’s shop, but said it considered that “several of the clips shown, such as the clips which depicted animals in distress or the skinned cow’s head, would likely not be seen in these places”.

It concluded: “For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause distress to both younger and adult audiences and therefore was not suitable for broadcast on TV regardless of scheduling restrictions.”

The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again, adding: “We told Vegan Friendly UK to avoid using imagery which was likely to cause distress to both younger and adult audiences.”

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