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New report slams advertising regulator

New report slams advertising regulator

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) under fire for weak enforcement and for being in the pockets of the ad industry

Culture
Meet Mabon - the 8 year old environmental activist

Meet Mabon - the 8 year old environmental activist

This stunningly stark north welsh coast has an unexpected guardian

Culture
Letters to the Earth

Letters to the Earth

Writing to a Planet in Crisis

Nature
Three-quarters of Scots support rewilding

Three-quarters of Scots support rewilding

Findings come as call launched for Scotland to become world’s first ‘Rewilding Nation’

Technology
 Earth Protector HS2 crowd fundraiser

Earth Protector HS2 crowd fundraiser

Jones' Hill Wood needs our support

Culture
Era of Action

Era of Action

Waterbear launches campaign and youth script writing competition

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Culture

New report slams advertising regulator

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) under fire for weak enforcement and for being in the pockets of the ad industry

Artist: Matt Bonner

A new, hard-hitting report analyses data on complaints to the ASA, revealing that only 22% of complained-about adverts are investigated and only 2% upheld, with the ASA often deciding not to investigate because it considers there is ‘no issue’.

The report, ‘Too close for comfort - A look into the Advertising Standards Authority and the case for more controls on advertising’ was published earlier this month by campaigning network Adfree Cities and argues for urgent reform of the ASA.

A major concern raised by the report is that the codes used by the ASA to decide if there is an issue with an advert are written by ad industry insiders.

Carla Denyer, Policy Coordinator at Adfree Cities, asks,

Drivers don’t decide their own speed limits, or set their own fines. Restaurants don’t decide their own hygiene ratings. So why are advertisers allowed to decide their own rules about what they can show us?

She goes on,

“Most of the advertising codes focus on whether an advert makes false claims about its product. But ads can do harm in other ways, by promoting socially or environmentally damaging products, indirectly misleading consumers (e.g. with unrealistic imagery rather than false claims), causing offence, or by perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

“Our report presents case studies of three adverts which received hundreds of complaints but were not upheld by the ASA. One is the MoneySuperMarket #epicsquads campaign which depicts a group of builders holding bats and chasing a group of men in hotpants and heels. Although the ad ends with a ‘joke’, the humour is premised upon and arguably reinforces the threat of violence to LGBT+ people, a protected minority. 455 complaints were submitted but no action was taken.

The study also points out that the advertising regulator’s lack of ‘teeth’ is a barrier to effective protection of the public. Unlike other regulators, the ASA has no power to fine companies that breach its rules by making misleading or offensive ads. The harshest type of sanction usually applied is to require the advert to be pulled - but because complaints typically take between 60 and 115 days to be processed, the ad campaign has often run its course before any action is taken.

Denyer explains: “In the case of a McDonald’s advert which tastelessly played on a family bereavement to sell fish burgers, even McDonald’s conceded to the complaints and withdrew the advert. But they faced no penalty despite the upset that the advert had already caused.”

Ralph Underhill, the report’s author, argues that there are several key ways to improve regulation of advertising in the UK.

We need a truly independent body to regulate advertising - one which is transparent, fair and involves the public in decision making.

“Advertising is pushed onto us without our consent. You do not ask to see an advert. So if you feel something in an advert harms you or others in some way, you should feel confident that there is a simple and easy way to do something about it. Currently, when the ASA’s rules are broken, the consequences are almost non-existent. It is time for meaningful change. We need a fair process that has real consequences for breaking the rules, involves members of the public in the complaints process, and is open and transparent for all to see.”

The report also calls for stronger rules, including on the environmental impact of adverts. And it concludes with actions that individuals and communities can take to push for reforms of the advertising industry.

Adfree Cities is holding a webinar on 24th March to explore how campaigners can both use and bypass the ASA to address issues of environmental degradation, mental health and climate breakdown.

Register at adfreecities.org.uk/asa

Culture

Meet Mabon - the 8 year old environmental activist

This stunningly stark north welsh coast has an unexpected guardian

An 8 year old boy residing on the stunningly stark north welsh coast.

Mabon works with his mum to keep the welsh beaches clean, spending hours each week, scouring the beaches of plastic washed up on the sand.

There have been a million films about the effects of plastic on our oceans and the surrounding environmental impact. But we have a different story to tell now. We now need to be thinking about our future generations, who will grow up educated, passionate and enthused by the idea of climate and social change. These future adults will grow to live in a world we have left them, with the same plastic carrier bags we threw into the ocean, floating past as they swim in the ocean in 50 years time.

This story is more powerful if told by the children who deal with this waste, who have taken the burden of mankind's glutton for plastic products and understand their responsibility to follow a new more sustainable path.

We feel Mabon’s is a very special story, one that many people will sit up and pay attention to. So Friction Collective wanted to tell Mabon’s story from his perspective. We want to listen to his thoughts about the world he lives in, the beaches, the litter, the nets and things he would say to the world that has left him this mess to deal with.

Our world has a serious ocean plastics problem.

There are now a higher number of plastics in the ocean than the number of fish.

This story is one best told by the children who deal with this waste and who have taken on the burden of mankind's glutton for plastic products. Mabon is the perfect example of this wonderful mindset, someone who spends time cleaning his favourite beaches, rather than just being able to sit and play in the sand like most children would. Mabon and his mum, Laura, a wild-swimmer, take their time to methodically clean the beach and name and shame the brands that produce the single use plastic in the first place.

  • Starring Mabon and Laura Sanderson @wildwelshswimmer
  • Director and Edit - Jack Davies
  • Camera - JW Create
  • Colour and Titles - Fin Davies
  • Animation - Bee in the Big
  • Music - Jaan
  • Sound Design - Patrick Henchman Audio
  • BTS Camera - Charlie Bush
  • Supported by https://simplystraws.com/

For more info on what you can do to support Mabon in his vital work visit: 

https://www.sas.org.uk/​ 

https://www.weswimwild.com/

Culture

Letters to the Earth

Writing to a Planet in Crisis

Freya Mavor

On 18th February, HarperCollins will publish the Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis bringing together over 100 letters - from children, parents, scientists, nurses, artists and politicians worldwide - in response to the combined crises of the climate and ecological emergency, and the coronavirus pandemic.

With an introduction by Emma Thompson, there are letters responding to Covid-19 from Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri and Skin’s star Freya Mavor, plus contributions from Yoko Ono, actor Mark Rylance, poet Kae Tempest, author Laline Paull, illustrator of The Lost Words Jackie Morris and environmental writer Jay Griffiths.

The letters are gathered into key themes: Love, Loss, Emergence, Hope and Action. Reflecting on the last year, Ben Okri writes that we are at the ‘beginning of an age of catastrophes’, and that we must listen to the earth’s ‘silent wisdom’ in order to live again. While Freya Mavor in her letter invites us to ‘Be brave. Be still. Be kind.’

Kay Michael, co-editor of the book said -

This book takes on the conversation we need to have in 2021... it asks: How do we find the words to process what’s happening to the planet?

“From the letters we’ve seen it's clear that people care and are ready to act. The response to the pandemic shows us that change is possible.”

Emma Thompson, writing in the forward for the Letters to the Earth anthology, commented:

The generation below mine is different. I feel it and I read it in these letters. Read this book and pass it on. Plugging in that energy will recharge even the most tired of batteries. Hand on your passion for the planet to the next person and never, ever give in.”

About Letters to the Earth

Letters to the Earth was launched in collaboration with Culture Declares Emergency by novelist Anna Hope, theatre director Jo McInnes, and theatre-maker Kay Michael in February 2019. They issued a call for the public to write a letter to or from the earth, other species, future or past generations, or people in positions of power.

Over 1000 letters were submitted within the first month: from 4 year olds to great grandparents; from artists, scientists, journalists, activists and politicians worldwide. The responses have been read for the public by actors including Emma Thompson and Paapa Essiedu, and have been performed at venues worldwide and on film with actors including Andrew Scott.

A year later, In April 2020 and in response to the global crisis that the Covid-19 pandemic has wrought, Letters to the Earth invited people from across the world to again give voice to their fears, hopes and visions for the future, and to write to each other in a time of separation and unknown. ‘Letters of Love in a Time of Crisis’ resulted in the premiere of 5 short films of over 50 letters, read by a global community of readers with special guests including Alison Steadman and Adam Bakri.

Culture Declares Emergency is a growing community of creative practitioners and organisations responding to the climate and ecological emergency.