Aerospace firms complain over green spoof adverts

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The Independent Online

Sir Montgomery Cecil, the president of Unlimited-Spurt - an organisation supposedly committed to aviation growth, which campaigns under the slogan "Sod them. Let's fly" - is emerging as an unlikely champion of the environmental movement.

In a full-page advert that appeared in newspapers yesterday, Sir Monty urged supporters to cut out a coupon and send it to the Chancellor, Gordon Brown. It says: "I admire your brave refusal to take action on climate change. Perhaps you should also forget your Aids and immunisation initiatives in Africa."

The adverts are of course a spoof, and Sir Montgomery a figment of the advertiser's imagination, an attempt to heap ridicule on Government and big business for their alleged failure to act decisively over CO2 emissions.

This week's attack on Mr Brown follows one in October which targeted the Department for Transport. Backed by a number of environmental groups, Sir Monty quoted figures saying 150,000 people die each year as a result of climate change, adding: "That's a risk we're prepared to take".

The ad so inflamed the Society of British Aerospace Companies, which represents firms such as Airbus and Rolls-Royce, that it complained, along with a dozen members of the public, to the Advertising Standards Authority. The complaint is still being considered., the group behind the most recent advert, has a track record of taking on leading corporate figures such as the supermarket boss Sir Ken Morrison and the Ryanair founder, Michael O'Leary.

Its director, Peter Myers, a former corporate financier turned eco-activist, said Sir Monty was typical of most business leaders. "The difference between him and other CEOs is that he speaks transparently. The others cover themselves with social responsibility reports while 99 per cent of them are plundering the earth's resources and turning it into junk and waste," he said.

Mr Myers said the £20,000 spent was easily recovered by the publicity generated by the controversy. More than 30,000 people logged on to the Unlimited-Spurt website after the first was published. It was named ad of the week by Creative Review and praised by The New York Times.

According to Provokateur's Joshua Blackburn the campaign is unique. "A lot of people were confused and taken in by it while others were genuinely annoyed ­ which is good. For us it was a win-win situation. If people got what it was about that meant it was an effective piece of communication. If they got wound up about it that was good too."

Those on the receiving end of the campaign feel they are being harshly treated. Paul Everitt of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, said the ads were an "unfair reflection" on the industry and the Government which he said was creating new climate-friendly technologies in the face of unprecedented pressure from the expansion in aviation across the world. "This is a group that would prefer to see aviation return to being the preserve of the rich," he said

A Treasury sources said: "We remain committed to taking the real action necessary, both domestically and internationally to reduce climate change emissions, and that is what people will get with Gordon Brown, not silly gimmicks and stunts."