ASA uphold Teddington Action Group’s complaint about 4th misleading Heathrow advert

The Teddington Action Group complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) back in July about misleading information put out by Heathrow, implying that “A majority of MPs support expansion”.  Heathrow got a Comres poll done, of 150 MPs, and said that of these 65% supported a 3rd Heathrow runway. Heathrow then generalised this result to claim the same support across all 650 MPs. The ASA has upheld TAG’s complaint against the Heathrow claim “A majority of MPs support Heathrow expansion” was misleading as it was based on a survey of only 150 MPs and the geographical make-up of the MPs surveyed meant a bias in the result; and The advert did not provide sufficient clarity on where the claim that “Expanding Heathrow will deliver up to £211bn of economic growth and up to 180,000 jobs across Britain” was sourced. The only evidence for the claims in the ads is a link to the Airports Commission, in tiny print – and no indication of the caveats on those figures – or that the economic benefits are over 60 years). The ASA agreed the advert had breached the Advertising Codes. To avoid negative publicity, Heathrow agreed to make the required changes to the advert and the case was informally resolved by the ASA. This is the fourth such ruling in 18 months against adverts claiming support for Heathrow expansion.
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Advertising Standards Authority uphold Teddington Action Group’s complaint about 4th misleading Heathrow advert

WEDNESDAY 5 OCTOBER 2016 (TAG)

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints made by members of Teddington Action Group about a Heathrow Airport Ltd advert from July 2016 (copy of the claim image below) claiming that “A majority of MPs support Heathrow expansion”.

The decision follows three previous rulings:

1.  April 2016 in relation to an advert from Heathrow Airport Ltd’s lobby group Back Heathrow which claimed “Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion”;

2.  September 2015 banning a pro-expansion advert from Heathrow Airport Ltd which claimed “Those around us are behind us”;

3. February 2015 in response to Heathrow Airport Ltd’s claims that “UK business trade 20 times as much with countries where there are daily flights than with those with less frequent or no direct service”.

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In all four cases, the ASA concluded that the claims were misleading and could not be substantiated.

In terms of the latest ruling, the ASA upheld TAG’s complaint that:

The claim that “A majority of MPs support Heathrow expansion” was misleading as it was based on a survey of only 150 MPs and the geographical make-up of the MPs surveyed meant a bias in the result; and

The advert did not provide sufficient clarity on where the claim that “Expanding Heathrow will deliver up to £211bn of economic growth and up to 180,000 jobs across Britain” was sourced.

The ASA found that the advert had breached the Advertising Codes. On this occasion – no doubt in an attempt to avoid negative publicity – Heathrow agreed to make the required changes to the advert and the case was informally resolved by the ASA.

Paul McGuinness, spokesman for Teddington Action Group said:

“This latest ruling is yet another demonstration of Heathrow’s manipulation of data and false claims as it tries to persuade government to succumb to its laboured pitch for a third runway. Leaving aside what it says about Heathrow’s case, that they feel it can only be made by manipulating the facts, we are simply disappointed that this latest breach of the advertising standards – the fourth within 18 months – did not result in a stronger punishment. How many more times will Heathrow make false claims of support for expansion and be allowed to get away with it? And what is the point of the ASA if it allows advertising rules to be repeatedly flouted by a known serial offender?”

For further information, contact Paul McGuinness on 07958 589894.

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Copy of July 2016 Heathrow Airport Ltd advert 

Notes:

  1. The ASA’s rulings can be found at www.asa.org.uk.
  2. The ASA’s 5 October 2016 ruling on the July 2016 Heathrow Airport Ltd advert can be found athttps://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications.aspx#2
  3. The ASA’s ruling on the April 2016 Back Heathrow advert can be found athttps://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2016/4/Back-Heathrow/SHP_ADJ_315946.aspx#.V_LSfjbSlMs
  4. The ASA’s ruling on the September 2015 Heathrow Airport Ltd advert can be found athttps://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2015/9/Heathrow-Airport-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_293164.aspx#.Vxax-8ohOZI.email
  5. The ASA’s ruling on the February 2015 Heathrow Airport Ltd advert can be found athttps://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2015/2/Heathrow-Airport-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_278727.aspx#.V_LTyTbSlMs
  6. Teddington Action Group is a genuine community group representing residents living in Teddington and the surrounding areas including Twickenham, Strawberry Hill and Hampton Hill. www.teddingtonactiongroup.com


See earlier:

Advertising Standards Authority rules against misleading “Back Heathrow” ad claiming 60% support for runway

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from “Back Heathrow” claiming that most local people back Heathrow expansion. “Back Heathrow” is a lobby group, funded through Heathrow with the aim of pushing for the 3rd runway. Back Heathrow ran a regional press ad headlined “Rallying for the runway” with the line “Don’t believe the hype. Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion.” They claimed from polls there was 60% support. The ASA says the claim was misleading, and the 60% figure had only been massaged up from 50% to that level by omitting the 15% who did not express an opinion. The ASA considered most consumers were likely to understand it to mean that a clear majority of those surveyed in the poll (the original sample) were in support of expansion. They ruled that removing the 15% was “not a suitable methodology by which to draw such a conclusion, and was misleading. The ad must not appear again in its current form, and “Back Heathrow” must not repeat these claims ” unless it held robust substantiation for them.” This is a blow to “Back Heathrow,” the strategy of which has been to try to convince decision-makers that a majority of local people back a 3rd runway. That claim looks flimsy.

Click here to view full story…

Advertising Standards Authority finds Heathrow advert about increased trade breaches their code and is ‘misleading’

February 4, 2015

In October 2014 about 13 people send in official complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, on claims being made by Heathrow in its adverts. The ASA looked at 7 different complaints, and considered that 6 passed their standards. However, on the claim by Heathrow in its ads headed:”Expand Heathrow and its’s the economy that takes off” the statement “Direct flights to long-haul destinations build twenty times more trade with them than indirect flights” was found to breach the ASA code. The ASA say the claim was not adequately substantiated and that the ad therefore breached the Code, both by being misleading and by not having proper substantiation. The ASA say the advert “must not appear again in its current form.” They have told Heathrow “to ensure that they held robust substantiation for absolute claims made in their future advertising.”  The ASA ruling also says the claim was presented as objective facts rather than an educated assumption and that Heathrow’s own report “One Hub or None”itself cautioned that direct flights would not automatically lead to more trade and that multiple factors could influence the amount of bilateral trade.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/02/advertising-standards-authority-finds-heathrow-advert-about-increased-trade-breaches-their-code-and-is-misleading/

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and

Advertising Standards Agency rules Heathrow ads claiming “Those living around us are behind us” are misleading

Edit this entry.

Heathrow Airport has been told by the ASA that its adverts claiming that “Those living around us are behind us”.  Eight people had challenged whether the adverts were misleading and if they could be substantiated.  The ASA concluded that the claim exaggerated the level of support for expansion, had not been substantiated and was misleading. They noted that the claims “Those living around us are behind us” and “Locals support it” were not qualified.  The ASA considered that most readers would interpret the claims to mean that a clear majority of those living in close proximity to Heathrow Airport supported expansion. The evidence provided, however, showed that only 50% of those surveyed from ten constituencies close to the airport supported expansion. The ASA say the ads must not appear in their current form again. They told Heathrow Airport Ltd to ensure they held sufficient evidence to substantiate their objective marketing claims in future, and to ensure their claims were adequately qualified, without contradiction. John Stewart, chair of HACAN, said: “This judgement is not good news for Heathrow. It undermines a key plank of their campaign that they have strong local support for a third runway.” The ASA ruled against other Heathrow ads in February 2015.   

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2015/09/advertising-standards-agency-rules-heathrow-ads-claiming-those-living-around-us-are-behind-us-are-misleading/

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And another set of adverts was considered by the ASA,but they did not rule against them:

Does Heathrow advert implying a small girl needs a 3rd runway, for her future, meet Advertising Standards?

The ASA now say:

“….the investigation had been delayed due to some new points being raised by additional complainants.  Since then another couple of issues have been added to the investigation, meaning that we have had to again engage in further discussion with the advertiser.

“However, we have now received Heathrow’s response on all points, including the newest ones.  We are currently in the process of drawing up the documents for the next stage of the case, and hope that we may be able to send these out [to those who submitted complaints] by the end of the month.”

…. and they say “… the issues around advertising claims of this nature are complex and our investigation will necessarily take some time”   …. and they are working to address the concerns of the many people who complained as promptly as they are able.

The Heathrow advert

22.9.2014

Earlier this week, Heathrow put out full page advertisements for their 3rd runway. This is part of an on-going, and expensive media campaign. However, they may have mis-judged the tone of this one. It features a small girl, aged about 5, with her hand up – and the text makes out that her future well being will depend upon ….. guess what?? …. a new Heathrow runway. The advert says the 3rd runway will deliver “… at least£100 billion of economic benefits [no timescale given] the length and breadth of the country.  …. So, even if our little girl never leaves home, she’ll still feel the benefit.”  People may have been inspired to write to the Advertising Standards Authority, to complain about this rather dubious text, with unsubstantiated claims, making use of a small child, to try to make a PR point. One such letter to the ASA has been copied to AirportWatch, in which the writer clearly puts the case that what this child needs is a stable climate for her future, not accelerating carbon emissions. The writer believes the advert to be misleading, and asks the ASA to have it withdrawn. There is now anAvaaz petition to the ASA on this ad.