ASA ruling takes us all for fools

I WILL refrain from the rhetorical question: “Do they think we're all idiots” because, quite plainly, that is precisely what they do think.The Advertising Standards Authority has done it again, coming up with yet another daft ruling against a supposedly “misleading” ad which could only mislead someone suffering from terminal stupidity.

I WILL refrain from the rhetorical question: “Do they think we're all idiots” because, quite plainly, that is precisely what they do think.

The Advertising Standards Authority has done it again, coming up with yet another daft ruling against a supposedly “misleading” ad which could only mislead someone suffering from terminal stupidity.

A television ad for a car dealership in the North-East has been banned by the ASA for its description of Volvo DRIVe models as “kind to the environment” because of their low fuel consumption and emissions.

“Viewers were likely to interpret the claim 'these cars are kind on the environment' in absolute terms: the DRIVe range caused no harm to the environment,” says the ASA. “Because that was not true, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”


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What condescending nonsense. There is probably nobody on the planet, let alone a typical TV viewer in North-East England, daft enough to believe that there is or can ever be a car which causes no harm to the environment whatsoever. Even zero emission electric vehicles have some kind of impact, through their manufacture and the generation of the power they use.

Bizarrely, the ASA said it would have been acceptable for the advertiser to claim that the cars were “kinder on the environment”. Since this phrase might be held to imply that all cars are kind to the environment, to some extent or another, the ASA's statement could be regarded as rather more misleading than the ad to which it objected.

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Who do I complain to, please?

n Our railway system comes in for a good deal of criticism, some of it deserved, but surely the campaigners opposed to the replacement Frinton-on-Sea's iconic level crossing gates with automatic barriers are being a bit hard on Network Rail.

To complain about the gates being removed “in the dead of night” certainly made for an eye-catching headline, but at what time of day did they expect the work to be carried out?

A ceremonial final closing of the gates might have been nice but it would have meant, in effect, losing an entire overnight shift of work which could easily have delayed the reopening of the tracks for passenger use.

That is, after all, the purpose of the railway, rather than to provide a symbolic barrier to the only point of entry to the town. (Strictly speaking, it isn't the only way in but, if you don't know the alternative, I'm certainly not going to tell you about it since, as a frequent visitor, I find it jolly convenient.)

Nor is it as if the gates just removed are original. With the line being more than 140 years ago, they must have been replaced a number of times and it is hard to imagine that each set was an exact replica of the previous one, so the new barriers are simply another part of the story.

The old gates have, according to Network Rail, been kept in order to be put on display once the improvement work is completed. Let the protesters be content with that.

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