A provocative anti-fluoridation television advert did not breach New Zealand’s Advertising Code of Ethics, the NZ Advertising Standards Authority has ruled.
The Complaints Board received six complaints about a Fluoride Free NZ advert which screened nine times on TV3 at different times of the day between July 29 and August 6 of this year.
The complaints stated the ad contained misleading information and played on fear to get its message across.
The FFNZ ad consisted of a series of images of a factory with two tall, smoking chimneys, water being piped into glass containers, a beautiful lake in a mountainous area, a worker holding a large plastic container wearing protective clothing and water being poured into a drinking glass.
A voiceover describes how hydrofluorosilicic acid, also known as fluoride, is collected from the chimneys of the fertiliser industry and added to drinking water. It also says fluoride is banned from being released into the air, sea, lakes and rivers because of its toxicity to animals and environment.
The advertisement then ends with the phrase “Find out the facts, visit FluorideFree.org.NZ”.
The Complaints Board confirms the ad was advocacy advertising.
“Advocacy advertising is often characterised by parties having differing views that are expressed in robust terms. The Complaints Board does not take a view on the issue being presented, its role is to ensure there is fair play and the right of free expression is not unduly restricted.”
The board agreed that both the identity and the position of the advertiser were clear and the comments made in the advertisement were supported. It also discussed the tone of the advertisement and how the advertisement might be “frightening for vulnerable people”.
But it agreed FFNZ had a “justifiable reason to state their case in this way”, and also noted while the ad was attention-grabbing, it also encouraged the viewer to find out more about the topic for themselves.
While the board agreed the advertisement was provocative and could be offensive to people and groups who held an opposite view to the one the ad presented, this did not make it misleading and robust opinion was allowable under the provisions of Rule 11 of the Advertising Code of Ethics.
“The Complaints Board noted the concerns of the Complainants, particularly which the advertisement played on fear. The majority of the Complaints Board however decided that the advertisement did not reach the threshold required to breach the Code of Ethics.”
To read the full decision visit the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority website at: www.asa.co.nz