Climate change warning ad attracts political probe

LONDON - The Government's 'Bedtime Stories' ad warning about the impact of climate change is to be investigated by the media regulator Ofcom after it received hundreds of complaints that it is political advertising.

Act on CO2: by AMV as part of a £6m campaign
Act on CO2: by AMV as part of a £6m campaign

According to the Communications Act, the government is allowed to run advertising of a public service nature, such as warnings about obesity or drink driving, but it not allowed to run ads that aim to "influence public opinion on a matter of public controversy".

The TV ad was created by AMV as part of a £6m campaign by the Department for Energy and Climate Change and debuted in early October.

It has been under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority since late October because of objections on the following grounds:

  • The claim that climate change is man-made.
  • The claim that climate change exists.
  • The claim that over 40% of CO2 is as a result of man-made activity.
  • The ad is distressing to children.

The ASA has received 938 relevant complaints but has passed those about the ad being political to Ofcom.

An ASA spokesman said today the body would publish its findings in the next few weeks. He put the extended length of the investigation down to the amount of claims people have objected to and to the "complicated process" of verifying the claims.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change did not return calls for comment.

The ad is designed to make adults feel guilty about the legacy they will leave their children and features a father telling his daughter a bedtime story of "a very very strange" world with "horrible consequences" for today's children.

It shows a British town deep under water, with people and animals drowning. Carbon dioxide is shown rising from cars, homes and everyday appliances in clouds of black soot, which then form a jagged-toothed monster.

The launch of the activity marked the first time that a government ad campaign conveyed the message in a factual way that the human race is causing global warming and endangering life on Earth.

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