Advertising complaint upheld against vegan charity

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

An ad focusing on pig welfare was deemed misleading (stock image)
An ad focusing on pig welfare was deemed misleading (stock image)
Two complaints in the UK were upheld against Viva!, a vegan campaigning charity, by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a complaint was made by the National Pig Association (NPA).

A cinema ad for Viva! was seen in December 2017 before the 12A-rated films Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

It featured a pig running around in a field and the voice-over stated: “All creatures can experience pleasure. She is a pig called Hope rescued by Viva. This is her dance of joy for being outdoors for the first time.”

Subsequent footage showed individual or small groups of pigs indoors behind the bars of a pen and a number of pigs in a very crowded pen. The voice-over stated, “It’s something most pigs will never know as 90% are factory farmed. Set them all free. Try Vegan.”

The NPA and seven members of the public challenged whether the ad was misleading because it featured farming methods that were no longer allowed in the UK. It implied that the majority of pigs farmed in the UK were restricted to the indoors and the ad contained content that was likely to cause distress without justifiable reason.

Viva! said the intensive farming footage shown in the ad was taken on farms in the UK and showed the rack, which they maintained was used (legally) on most UK pig farms, when sows were artificially impregnated. It said it believed the ad showed accepted practices in the UK pig industry in terms of stocking density and the environment in which the pigs were shown.

Viva! cited figures from the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, dated November 2008. which stated that 74% of pigs were bred indoors; 95% of pigs were fattened indoors and that 99% were finished indoors.

The ASA said it considered the ad was misleading as consumers would interpret it to mean that pigs that were intensively or factory farmed in the UK would be kept in conditions similar to those shown in the indoor footage.

It said in Viva!’s ad it was not clear why pigs were being accommodated in the way shown or for how long. In conjunction with the references in the voice-over to the pig running around in the field being “rescued”​ and her “dance of joy for being outdoors for the first time”,​ it considered consumers were likely to interpret the indoor scenes to mean that pigs were intensively or factory farmed in the UK.

It also said that it believed the ad was misleading as consumers would interpret it to mean that 90% of pigs in the UK were intensively or factory farmed and would never experience the outside environment as a result.

However, it did not uphold the complaint about the images being challenging.  It considered that the decision to limit the cinema ad to being shown around 12A, 15A, 15 and 18 certificate films only meant it would be seen by an audience that was likely to be able to understand the nature of the debate.  

Viva! was told that its ad must not appear again in this form and the ASA warned the organisation not to mislead how animals would be accommodated in intensive farming environments.

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1 comment

Nice Photo Used for the article - "Misleading!"

Posted by Chris,

Pity the advert didn't show pigs being "processed" through a "plant" - to let the buying public know the rest of the story.

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