Honest Climate Change Ads Too Scary for UK Kids

By Matt Van Hoven 

A campaign launched in the UK (“Act On CO2”) meant to inform parents and children about the dangers of high carbon dioxide levels has been chastised by the Advertising Standards Authority for making exaggerated environmental claims. The print portion of the campaign has been called into question, but a TV ad (below) did not breach guidelines. After the jump is a list of complaints about the ads. You’ll want to see those.

Click continued to see the print work. Via USAToday.

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1. the ad was political in nature and should not be broadcast;

2. the theme and content of the ad, for example the dog drowning in the storybook and the depiction of the young girl to whom the story was being read, could be distressing for children who saw it;

3. the ad should not have been shown when children were likely to be watching television;

4. the ad was misleading because it presented human induced climate change as a fact when that was not the case;

5. the claim “over 40% of the CO2 was coming from ordinary everyday things” was misleading;

6. the representation of CO2 as a rising cloud of black smog was misleading;

7. the claims about the possible advent of strange weather and flooding in the UK, and associated imagery, were exaggerated, distressing and misleading.

In addition there were objections to the press ads:

8. many complainants objected to the press ads (b), (c) and (d) in respect of (4) above because they believed there was a significant division of informed scientific opinion on the matter;

9. many complainants objected to the press ads (b), (c) and (d) in respect of (7) above;

10. one complainant objected to the press ad (e) in respect of (5) above.

The complaints on point 1 were referred to Ofcom under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 4 (Political and controversial issues). There is no specific prohibition in relation to ads which might be classed as political advertising in non-broadcast media.