ASA statement on Coalition for Marriage ads
15 May 2012
The ASA’s decision to investigate complaints about a series of ads by the Coalition for Marriage that are appearing in the press and online has prompted some comment in the media, the blogosphere and in other social media. We would like to clarify that the fact that we are investigating the complaints does not mean we will necessarily ‘uphold’ them, leading to the ad being banned. We are not at that decision-making stage yet and will, as always, take into account the responses we receive. The right of advertisers responsibly to express their views will undoubtedly be an important factor in our assessment of whether the ads are likely to cause serious or widespread offence. We are also looking at whether the ads are misleading.
One of the bloggers on whose blog the ads appeared has raised concerns about us contacting him as part of our investigation. We have long found it useful to ask, in confidence, publishers of ads subject to ‘offence’ complaints for their views, because they can give us a valuable insight into whether or not their readers are likely to be offended. They are not the subject of our investigation, as we have made clear to them in this case, and they are not compelled to respond. Many of the adjudications published on our websites bear that out. Here are examples of ASA rulings where publishers have responded and we have agreed with them that the ads under investigation were acceptable, where some have regretted publishing the ad in question and where the publisher has declined to comment.
We cannot comment further on our ongoing investigation before we reach a decision, but we will very carefully assess the issues at hand before we publish our findings.