LETTERS: Missing the point on offensive ads

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The Independent Online
Sir: Advertising agency director Matthew Lonsdale asks the Advertising Standards Authority to "stand in the corner of the classroom until it has worked out the difference" between the shocking deeds of the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and the plain telling of the story in a broadsheet newspaper, in this case an International Fund For Animal Welfare advertisement.

In his Another View column ("We have been misinformed," 5 October), he misses the point of the complaints upon which the ASA was asked to adjudicate.

The IFAW advertisement in question, promoting the Wild Mammals (Protection) Bill, juxtaposed the line that convicted Dahmer "graduated" from mutilating birds and animals with the line that torture of mammals goes on in Britain and opponents of the Bill were somehow comparable to Dahmer.

Upholding both the challenge as to whether Dahmer mutilated animals and the complaint that the perceived comparison was offensive, the ASA reported:

The authority understood Dahmer did not mutilate live animals but examined corpses of animals killed by traffic. It concluded that the use of Dahmer was inappropriate. The authority considered the irrelevance of the comparison ... shocking and had caused offence. It judged the advertisers had failed to justify using this approach.

That's fair enough, isn't it, Mr Lonsdale? People do not think the comparison appropriate, and complainants were offended. In which case it also seems fair and fitting that the ASA made the general criticism of certain pressure groups "misinforming people by exaggerating or stretching the truth, exploiting the trust that the public have ..." in them.

Your sincerely,

Rupert Mostyn

British Field Sports Society

London, SE1