Scottish Gas 'wind farm' ad escapes ban

LONDON - Press and TV ads promoting offshore wind farms developed by British and Scottish Gas have escaped a ban by the Advertising Standards Authority.

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The ads, created by CHI & Partners, featured homes on top of planets that were plugged into another planet housing a wind farm. A voiceover and text stated that Scottish Gas has built the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

One person complained that the ad was misleading because the wind farm in the ad was actually based in two separate locations, and believed there was a larger wind farm in Denmark.

The rival gas supplier Scottish and Southern Energy felt the ads were misleading because it believed the wind farm had been built by Centrica as opposed to Scottish Gas.

It also said the word "largest" offshore wind farm was ambiguous as it could refer to either geographical area or generation output.

Scottish and Southern also believed the wind farm in the ad was still under construction and not fully operational, and its own wind farm, though also still under construction, would generate more output upon completion. 

British Gas, the trading company for Scottish Gas, said the ads’ claim referred to its Lynn & Inner Dowsing wind farm, which worked as a single entity, using the same machinery, equipment and workforce to operate.

All electricity generated from it was transmitted to a single onshore substation, and all electricity generated by it entered the National Grid via a single point of entry.

The advertiser argued that the claim of largest offshore wind farm should be interpreted as indicating generation capacity and the ad did not intend to exaggerate the size or scale of the wind farm.

It said that British Gas and Scottish Gas were part of the Centrica group and the wind farm development was built by holding companies within Centrica in order to benefit British and Scottish Gas customers.

The ASA agreed that for advertising purposes, the name Scottish Gas was more meaningful for the customer as the supplier of the renewable energy referred to in the ad.

It also noted the points put forward by British Gas and were satisfied that the claims were substantiated.

It did not believe the ads were likely to mislead and therefore determined that no further action was necessary.