NEWS: ASA to challenge Friends of the Earth over Internet commercial

The Advertising Standards Authority is set to challenge the pressure group, Friends of the Earth, over its decision to place a banned ad on the Internet, in what could develop into a test case.

The Advertising Standards Authority is set to challenge the pressure

group, Friends of the Earth, over its decision to place a banned ad on

the Internet, in what could develop into a test case.



The ASA, which ordered Friends of the Earth’s ‘mahogany is murder’

commercial off cinema screens in October, said it will now approach the

advertiser to ask it to abide by its ruling on theÿ20Internet as well.



Caroline Crawford, the ASA’s director of communications, commented: ‘We

will remind them that we expect an ad on the Internet to conform to the

[ASA] codes, which apply to all non-broadcast media.’



For the moment, the ASA is avoiding the threat of further action.

However, Crawford added: ‘What is hanging over Friends of the Earth is

the threat of discrediting the Internet as an advertising medium. If we

want advertising on the Internet to be credible, it is going to have to

be regulated in some way.’



Tony Juniper, deputy campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, said it

would continue to defy the ASA. ‘It is not possible to withdraw what we

have said,’ he declared.



Juniper added that Friends of the Earth had supplied the ASA with

evidence that ‘shows a continuing [illegal mahogany] trade, with lots of

people being murdered. If that’s not good enough for the ASA, I am

sorry.’



Regulating the Internet has always been a thorny issue. However, last

week Virgin Atlantic Airways became the first advertiser to be fined for

misleading consumers in an Internet ad in the US.



The Friends of the Earth ad accuses loggers in the Brazilian rainforest

of murdering indigenous people. The ASA maintains that Friends of the

Earth does not have sufficient evidence to make the claim.



The ad can be viewed in full-motion video by users with the correct

software, or as a storyboard on Friends of the Earth’s World Wide Web

site at http://www.foe.co.uk.



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