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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Request for appeal on the Airbus Adverts

Letter to the Advertising Standards Agency Independent Reviewer

Dear Sirs,

I have been told in email correspondence with Julia Dean that the grounds for which a request can be made is “Where there is a substantial flaw in the Council's adjudication or in the process by which that adjudication was made.”

You will note that the letter I received states that the “ASA council has considered the ad and your complaint but concluded there was no breach of the Code.”

I have since checked the code. This advert is clearly and unequivocally in breach of the ASA code. The relevant sections that it is in breach follow below: -

49.1 The basis of any claim should be explained clearly and should be qualified where necessary. Unqualified claims can mislead if they omit significant information.

The ASA Council’s justification for rejecting the complaint is that Airbus did not make any specific claims about particular projects that the advertisers were involved with or goals.” By definition, the ASA are acknowledging that the statement is unqualified as they recognise that no specific claims are made; hence ASA Council has not abided by its own code and there is a substantial flaw in the adjudication.

The advert also says, “working towards.” Airbus do not say how long it will take nor by how much they intend to reduce greenhouse gases nor do they explain the basis of their claim, hence this is a totally unqualified statement, further justifying that the ASA Council has not abided by its own code and there is a substantial flaw in the adjudication.

49.2 Claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘wholly biodegradable’ should not be used without qualification unless marketers can provide convincing evidence that their product will cause no environmental damage when taking into account the full life cycle of the product. Qualified claims and comparisons such as ‘greener’ or ‘friendlier’ may be acceptable if marketers can substantiate that their product provides an overall improvement in environmental terms either against their competitors’ or their own previous products.

Airbus cannot present any convincing evidence that they are working towards reducing greenhouse gases. The Tindal Report, 2005 ( available at quantifies the rise in emissions from aviation. All the evidence proves unequivocally that greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are increasing significantly and that any claims that the airline industry is reducing, or can reduce emissions, without major reductions in capacity is totally false.

In addition Airbus has implied in the advert that its drive to improve fuel efficiency is part of its drive towards to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, it has not qualified that this fuel efficiency is primarily being achieved on long range planes such as the new A380, were the total emissions will be far higher than any previous plane.

The ASA Council is therefore in breach of its own code as it has allowed the claim of working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions without qualification and in spite of the fact that the marketers can not provide any convincing evidence for their claim of working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is a substantial flaw in the adjudication process.

49.3 Where there is a significant division of scientific opinion or where evidence is inconclusive this should be reflected in any statements made in the marketing communication. Marketers should not suggest that their claims command universal acceptance if that is not the case.

There is no division of scientific opinion on climate change. The reverse is true. The absolute consensus is that cuts in excess of 80% need to be made to greenhouse gas emissions as documented in the Copenhagen Climate Conference report ( Furthermore there is absolutely no scientific evidence that suggests the aviation industry can achieve any significant cuts at all.

Thus the ASA Council is again in breach of its own guidance as it has allowed the advert in contrary to the main body of scientific opinion. This is a substantial flaw in the adjudication process.

Climate change is the defining issue of our time. The vested interests of companies such as Airbus is fundamentally derailing the debate and putting the entire future of the planet at risk. It is vital that this sort of misrepresentation is not tolerated. Its precedent is the cigarette adverts of the 1950s, were ludicrous claims such as safety cigarettes were fostered on an ignorant population. Adverts of this nature are exactly the same, only the implications of none action are greater.

I will also copy this correspondence to my MP, David Drew

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Lister

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