The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rejects complaints about our TRASH billboard advert.
Last year, Viva! launched our TRASH campaign which aimed to raise awareness of the forgotten victims of the dairy industry, male calves. To mark the launch of TRASH, we commissioned two giant vegan billboards to appear on one of the busiest stretches of motorway in the UK. The billboard ran for two weeks in October 2018 and showed an emotive image of a young bull calf alongside the text “95,000 Male Calves Shot in a Year – The Dairy Industry’s TRASH”.
Over the two week period, the billboards on the M5 were estimated to reach an astounding 1.6 million people. Our campaigns team then took the billboards to London, reaching an additional 7.1 million people!
Unsurprisingly, the ASA received complaints challenging whether the 95,000 male calves figure could be substantiated. We are thrilled to announce that the ASA has sided with us and dismissed the complaint!
We provided the ASA with a report by the Cattle Health and Welfare Group which clearly stated that in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available, 497,000 male calves were born but only 392,000 were registered. This resulted in 95,000 unregistered male calves killed on-farm. We also supplied evidence from the Farm Animal Welfare Committee which confirmed that male calves are ‘euthanised’ by shooting.
Lastly, the statistic had been confirmed in a report by The Guardian and in a BBC interview with David George of the National Farmers’ Union. The presenter asked Mr George “is it true that 95,000 calves are shot in the head every year?” to which Mr George responded “I’m afraid it is, yes”
Overall, the ASA concluded that the advert was not misleading and that the evidence supplied was sufficiently robust. They agreed that consumers would understand that the given figure was the most recent figure available at the time.
This complaint was submitted in an attempt to weaken our campaign and to mislead the public about the barbaric practices which are still very much present across the UK dairy industry. We believe that the public has a right to know where their food comes from and this complaint, among other attacks by the animal agriculture industry, shows that the industry feels threatened!
Of course, complainants did not challenge whether male calves are seen as useless by-products or whether they are killed so humans can consume their mother’s milk. Instead, they focused on our choice of statistic which proves just how solid our TRASH campaign is.
This victory comes as Februdairy draws to a close – another attempt by the dairy industry combat the rise of veganism. Thankfully, the public are opening their eyes to the reality of the dairy industry and more and more people choosing to go dairy-free.
We couldn’t have run this fantastic campaign without the ongoing support from our amazing members, so thank you!