Summary of Council decision:
Seven issues were investigated, of which one was Upheld and six were Not upheld.
Three national press ads, one bus stop ad, two Tube car ads and an email from Heathrow Airport presenting arguments in favour of expanding the airport:
a. The first national press ad was headed "If we want Britain's economy to keep growing, we need to grow Heathrow" and outlined how the expansion of Heathrow would benefit the economy, including statements such as "By 2050, nearly half of global GDP will be derived from emerging markets; primarily in Asia and South America. Britain's exporters desperately need direct access to all these burgeoning markets. And only one British airport can provide it ... Every month this problem goes unsolved costs the British economy £1.25 billion through lost trade. While Britain wrings its hands over the site of a new runway, our competitors in France, Germany and The Netherlands are rubbing theirs. They have the hub capacity. They have the will to grow it. And they have the wholehearted government support to take what could be Britain's. A new runway at Heathrow would create more than 120,000 new jobs. But that 3,500 metre stretch of tarmac would also deliver at least £100 billion of economic benefits the length and breadth of Britain". The ad included a footnote giving Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research and Frontier Economics as sources.
b. The second national press ad was headed "Heathrow expansion. It's time we heard from our most important stakeholders" and included an image of a young girl raising her hand. The ad outlined how the economic impact of the Heathrow expansion would benefit future generations, including statements such as "even if our little girl never leaves home, she'll still feel the benefit" and the claim "It will deliver more than 120,000 new jobs and at least £100 billion of economic benefits, the length and breadth of the country". The ad also included a footnote giving Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research and Frontier Economics as sources.
c. The third national press ad was headed "Expand Heathrow and the benefits will extend to people all over Britain" and stated "Expanding Heathrow will benefit millions of people all over the country, from Penzance to Inverness ... By the time the expansion is complete, we will also have new rail links from the North, South, East and West ... To the rest of the world, Heathrow Airport is Britain's front door. And the benefits of expanding it will be open to everyone who lives here" The ad also included statements about fare reduction, job creation and incre.ase in export capacity across the whole country, and a footnote giving Freight Transport Association, Civil Aviation Authority and Frontier Economics as sources.
d. The bus stop ad was the same as ad (a), but did not feature the footnote.
e. The first Tube ad was headed "Expand Heathrow and you open up her future" and featured the same image as ad (b). Text stated "By the time she's paying her taxes, Britain's economic health will be even more dependent on trade with emerging markets - like China, India and Brazil ... And only an expanded Heathrow can make direct long haul flights to those destinations viable ... A new runway here can deliver at least £100 billion in economic benefits to the UK (not to mention more than 120,000 new jobs). So, in the future, even if she travels no further than the western end of the Piccadilly Line, she'll still feel the benefit".
f. The second Tube ad was headed "Expand Heathrow and it's the economy that takes off" and stated "If we want Britain's economy to keep growing, we need to grow Heathrow ... By 2050, nearly half of global GDP will be generated in emerging markets like China, India and Brazil ... Direct flights to long-haul destinations build twenty times more trade with them than indirect flights. And only an expanded Heathrow can make direct long haul flights to those destinations viable ... A new runway here can deliver at least £100 billion in economic benefits to the UK (not to mention more than 120,000 new jobs)".
g. The email was headed "Taking Britain Further" and included text that stated "An additional runway at Heathrow will ... Create more than 120,000 new jobs".
The ASA received 13 complaints:
1. Six complainants, who considered that ads (a), (d), (e) and (f) made objective claims relating to the dependency of the growth of the British economy on the Heathrow expansion, and some of whom considered that this was presented as being to the exclusion of other plans, challenged whether the ads were misleading;
2. Five complainants, who were concerned about the effect of the Heathrow expansion on climate change, challenged whether references to benefits for future generations in ads (b) and (e) were misleading;
3. Seven complainants challenged whether the claims relating to £100 billion of economic benefits and 120,000 jobs created by the expansion in ads (a), (b), (d), (f) and (g) were misleading and could be substantiated;
4. Two complainants challenged whether the claims "Britain's exporters desperately need direct access to all these burgeoning markets. And only one British airport can provide it" in ad (a) and "And only an expanded Heathrow can make direct long haul flights to those destinations viable" in ad (f) were misleading and could be substantiated;
5. One complainant, who understood that there was not strong support for a German hub airport, challenged whether the claim "They have the hub capacity. They have the will to grow it. And they have the wholehearted government support to take what could be Britain's" in ad (a) was misleading and could be substantiated;
6. One complainant challenged whether the claims "Expanding Heathrow will benefit millions of people" and "the benefits of expanding it will be open to everyone who lives here" in ad (c) were misleading and could be substantiated;
7. One complainant challenged whether the claim "Direct flights to long-haul destinations build twenty times more trade with them than indirect flights" in ad (f) was misleading and could be substantiated.
Investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) Code rules 3.1 (Misleading Advertising) 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.33 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors)
1. & 3. Heathrow Airport Ltd stated that the context for the advertising was the Davies Commission, a body set up by government to look at how and where to expand the UK's airport capacity. They stated that the evidence forming the basis of the claims in the ad had also underpinned their submission to the Davies Commission, and that the reason for the Commission was that the government acknowledged airport expansion in the South-East had been overlooked for too long. They said that this had a detrimental effect on the economy as new routes and services could not access London and would therefore fly to other European cities instead, meaning that economic benefits of air connection were not being experienced to the degree that they could. They asserted that this was not the view of the airports but of the government, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and groups such as London First.
Heathrow provided a copy of a CBI report entitled "Boosting capacity where it matters most - the nub is the hub" which set out the CBI's position on future aviation capacity. The report outlined the CBI's opinion that increasing the capacity of British aviation connectivity was important for economic growth, and that a hub airport would offer the greatest chance of creating new routes to emerging markets.
Heathrow stated that the government had identified that in order for the British economy to grow sustainably it needs to export more, setting a target for doubling exports, and that they had deliberately described such sustainable growth in the first line of ad (a). They said that British exports were increasingly products such as computer chips, pharmaceuticals and high-end engineering, and that these were the kinds of products and services exported by aircraft. They stated that Heathrow was currently the nation's only hub airport, that it was the largest and best connected from a global perspective, and that by being the busiest international airport in the world it had been doing a vital job for the British economy for many years. Heathrow asserted that over 76,000 people currently worked at the airport, and that they also help to create over 100,000 additional jobs in the economy. They stated that the expansion would create thousands of roles both in construction and operation.
Heathrow stated that the government had set the doubling of exports as a key priority for sustainable growth, as well as an increase of 100,000 British companies exporting to new markets. They stated that this growth would be from emerging markets in Asia, Africa and South America, as well as traditional trading blocs, and that Heathrow was the only airport connecting Britain to these markets. They considered that they were therefore the only airport that could help to achieve the targets that the government identified as vital for economic recovery. They stated that 80% of long-haul flights from Britain left from Heathrow, that 26% of all exports and two-thirds of all air freight flew from Heathrow, and that 202 of the top 300 UK business were in their catchment area. They considered that this demonstrated Heathrow already facilitated billions in UK trade, and that it wasn't just the jobs in the airport that they helped to exist, but many thousands of others that benefitted the economy.
Heathrow provided an analysis of the macro economics behind the specific claims for job creation and economic benefit. They acknowledged that quantifying such benefits was inherently difficult and necessarily relied on a degree of judgement. However, they stated that there was sufficient evidence to give them confidence in stating that there would be at least £100 billion of benefit in terms of discounted present value to GDP over future years, and that this evidence had come from effects modelled by both PricewaterhouseCoppers and Frontier Economics. The analysis stated that £50 billion of GDP would result from the catalytic impact of additional aviation hub connectivity through trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), as it would allow for greater productivity and investment in the UK economy, and another £50 billion from the stimulation to the UK economy from the direct, indirect and induced expenditure produced by the expansion. With regard to the first figure, Heathrow stated that the PwC model had indicated that the current lack of airport capacity would lose the UK economy £30−45 billion over future years, and that the Frontier Economics model implied over £50 billion in benefits from the expansion, which Heathrow noted was just above the top end of the range estimated by PwC. For the latter figure, Heathrow stated that the Frontier Economics modelling of the economic impacts had implied a £200 billion benefit over future years, but as this figure relied on activating resources not currently contributing to the economy they had used the more conservative figure of £50 billion. They also stated that, aside from effects on GDP, there would be additional economic benefits, such as a reduction in flight delays because of congestion and a general decrease in airfares.
Heathrow provided a report by Frontier Economics titled "Employment impacts from growth at Heathrow". The report explored how the expansion would affect direct employment at the airport itself, indirect employment in airport-related services, induced employment facilitated by the spending of the directly and indirectly employed, and catalytic employment produced by the increase in trade and FDI (including tourism) as a result of the expansion. The report used a range of productivity improvements and economies of scale effects, and used results from the midpoints of these ranges to calculate the estimates for employment figures. The report detailed that direct employment had been estimated by assessing the likely increase in passengers and air traffic movements and relating this to current employment levels, and that the increase in output (such as per-passenger average ticket prices) from the new runway was multiplied by a factor of 0.63 (a figure calculated from Office of National Statistics data about the Input−Output multipliers of industries involved in the airport expansion) and converted into employment figures (using a ration based on direct employment) in order to calculate an estimate of indirect employment. Induced employment was projected by considering the average disposable income of the extra direct and indirect employees, taking into account the level of income they would receive in benefits if unemployed, and converting this to employment figures (using a national ratio). Using these calculations the report estimated the creation of 82,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs. For catalytic employment, the report outlined a focus on the long-term benefits of economic 'openness', using FDI and trade elasticities of GDP to estimate the increase of these on UK GDP in 2025, 2030 and 2040. A national GDP to jobs ratio was used on these values, as well as projected increases as the result of more tourism, to convert them into employment figures. Overall, the report estimated that 41,200 jobs would be produced by catalytic employment, giving a total of 123,500 jobs.
Heathrow also provided the November 2014 Airports Commission sustainability assessment for the additional runway, which they noted suggested a potential economic benefit of £211 billion and additional employment for 180,000. They considered that this demonstrated that their £100 billion and 120,000 jobs estimates had been conservative claims.
2. Heathrow stated that they had determined that Britain could accommodate the construction of a new runway and stay within the legally binding carbon limits. They asserted that, whatever an individual's personal view on climate change, businesses could only work within the parameters laid down by government and that if those indicated it would be possible then their duty was to show how they could achieve economic benefits whilst working within those limits. Heathrow further stated that the airport would have to work within the requirements set out by government, such as a limit on the number of flights that the new runway would be allowed to operate and the type and age of aircraft. They stated that their modelling on these aspects included changes that the wider public may not be aware of.
Heathrow provided extracts from a 2014 and a 2009 report by the Committee on Climate Change. They noted that the 2014 report included a statement asserting that an additional runway in the South-East could be compatible with objectives if aviation-demand growth was limited to about 60% above 2005 levels, provided that there are improvements of about one-third in the carbon intensity of flying by 2050. They also noted that the 2009 report's 'likely' future aviation scenario, the most pessimistic of the three in the report, anticipated a 35% reduction in carbon intensity by 2050, allowing the meeting of carbon targets even with a 55% or 60% increase in air traffic movements.
Heathrow provided Sustainable Aviation's 2012 report entitled "CO2 Road-Map", stating that it calculated an assumed carbon reduction of 54% between 2010 and 2050, with the potential for a reduction of 59.5%. The report included factors such as sustainable fuels, carbon trading, and the potential efficiency of future aircraft.
4. Heathrow stated that the opinion of the CBI was representative of business in the UK, and that their 'The nub is the hub' report laid out the case for connectivity to new markets and the urgency underlying the claim in ad (a). They stated that the only hub in the UK was Heathrow, and that the only options in the Davies Commission that built upon hub capacity were the ones that required expansion of Heathrow. They stated that the CBI findings were unequivocal on the role that a hub had in helping businesses connect with markets to facilitate trade, and that they clearly stated the risks and needs of business in the UK. They stated that only one airport, i.e. Heathrow, could provide those links, and that Gatwick's proposal to expand point-to-point European traffic would not provide the links that businesses need to deliver export-led recovery. Heathrow also provided a summary of several businesses, business representatives, tweets, open letters and articles that voiced similar opinions about hub airports generally or Heathrow specifically, and a case study of a business that would benefit from the Heathrow expansion due to hub capacity.
Heathrow stated that capacity expansion of regional airports was discounted because the costs would: outweigh the benefits; result in fewer Heathrow flights to emerging markets; and provide worse connectivity for the whole of the UK at an increased carbon cost. They stated that, as the UK's only international hub airport, it was the only one of the size and scale required to deliver many flights to long-haul destinations across the globe. Giving the example of other European hub airports, they explained that local passengers combined with transfer passengers to fill large long-haul aircraft, and that the flexibility of this combination allowed airlines to use consistent sizes of aircraft and maintain more frequent flights to such destinations. As such, they said that this mechanism would enable more airlines to fly to more destinations than could be supported by demand from the South-East alone, and that it was this ability to serve long-haul business destinations that made a hub like Heathrow different from a point-to-point airport like Gatwick. Heathrow also stated that passengers could currently fly direct to 75 different destinations world-wide from Heathrow that weren't served by any other UK airport, which they stated was supported by their analysis of OAG data (independent aviation information) from 2012 and provided a list of long-haul connections from Gatwick, totalling 29, and from Heathrow, totalling 118. They considered that the majority of the Gatwick destinations were for leisure, particularly holiday destinations for UK travellers, as opposed to the trade centres connected by Heathrow. They also stated that the evidence showed only hub airports provide connections and that there was only one hub airport in the UK, Heathrow. They said that changes in long-haul flight plans since the 'Open Skies' agreement with the US had led to closures of long-haul connections from Gatwick and increases in connections from Heathrow. Heathrow explained that British Airways had attempted to pursue a dual hub strategy at Heathrow and Gatwick, and had done so by growing the proportion of transfer passengers at both airports, but that this had been abandoned in favour of focusing on Heathrow as a single hub because the costs of the strategy had outweighed the benefits. They understood that British Airways were committed to Heathrow and would only leave if the airport was closed, and that the likelihood of other airlines leaving was small because this would free up extra capacity at Heathrow mitigating the current capacity constraints on the British Airways services. They also stated that every other airport in Britain had plenty of spare capacity and that airlines could offer routes to destinations served by Heathrow if they wished, but that they did not because it wasn't financially viable on the basis of local demand alone. Heathrow understood that Gatwick did not intend to become a hub airport that facilitated connections, but just a bigger airport. Heathrow also provided a graph showing that they carried many more long-haul passengers than Gatwick, both as a proportion of their total passenger numbers and in real terms.
5. Heathrow stated that the other European hubs were supported by their respective governments and had investment put in before the airports were close to capacity. They stated that each hub airport had more runways, all built relatively recently (the most recent for Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam Schipol and Frankfurt in 1998, 2003 and 2011 respectively) and all operated below capacity in order to provide room for expansion in future. They considered this to be a clear demonstration of support. Heathrow noted that the decision to construct a runway in Europe was with government because of the nature of the impact on the ground and in the air. While they acknowledged that this did not mean that there had not been any objection to construction, such as the reaction to Frankfurt's new runway, the decision was still taken to support the hub because of the wider benefits to the economy. They stated that Heathrow had never had its capacity expanded in terms of runway and had not seen the support of their European neighbours. They said that the growth in passenger numbers had instead come from airlines operating larger aircraft that could maximise the use of airport 'slots'.
6. Heathrow stated that this claim was made on the basis of three measures that were directly referred to in the ad: jobs; economic growth; and lower fares and use from across the country. They stated that an Airports Commission report from November 2014 (a copy of which they provided) estimated 180,000 new jobs and that, as the average household size was 2.35, this would benefit 423,000 people in 180,000 households as a direct result of jobs created through the expansion. They also stated that the significant benefit to GDP would not be accrued to Heathrow itself but to the country as a whole. Heathrow stated that, due to the size of the numbers involved, most people in the country would benefit in one form or another, whether from direct employment, healthcare or welfare funding. They also stated that their research (a report by Frontier Economics titled 'Impact of airport expansion options on competition and choice', which they provided) indicated that the expansion could lead to savings for travellers of up to £300 per ticket by 2030, because of the extra competition allowed for by an expanded Heathrow and changes in the supply/demand relationship caused by extra capacity. They stated that 32.4 million journeys through Heathrow each year were by UK citizens, and that this was an opportunity for significant monetary savings to millions of people as a direct result of expansion. They stated that journeys from Heathrow were made by people from every single county in the UK to destinations all over the world, and that a resident from every single county visited China, Singapore, UAE, France or the USA last year, and that passengers from every region flew to India, UAE, US, Germany, or other parts of the UK on business purposes in the last 12 months. Heathrow stated that, due to the size of GDP growth, the number of jobs and the reduction in fares, as well as the use of the airport by passengers from the whole of the UK, the benefits of an expanded airport were open to everyone.
7. Heathrow provided the Frontier Economics reports "UK Trade and the importance of connectivity," highlighting a section that stated (in relation to emerging markets) "UK business trade 20 times as much with countries where there are daily flights than with those with less frequent or no direct service" and "One Hub or None" that contained a very similar statement. These statements were accompanied by two graphs that mapped time in years against value of trade in dollars and an index of growth in trade. The graphs showed a sharper general upward trend for destinations with daily flight connections than for those with poor connectivity. A third report, the background data behind the "One Hub or None" document, stated that emerging markets with connections to other European hubs, but not with the UK, traded more with those countries. It gave the example of Indonesia, with which the UK trades imports and exports with a value of 0.11% of GDP, but with which Germany and the Netherlands on average trade a value of 0.3% of GDP.
Heathrow also stated that it was important to understand the activities behind these figures. They said that several American companies − such as Microsoft, Ford and Vauxhall − based their European headquarters within the UK because of elements such as a shared language and good connections, and that this has led to a great deal of investment and GDP benefits over the years. Heathrow considered this indicated that in order to keep this position and keep growing, the UK needs connections to new markets that want the same access to skills that the US did, and that without these connections this was costing the economy substantially.
The ASA noted that the ads referred to an airport expansion plan that was currently being considered by the Airports Commission, and understood that there was no mechanism for public input in the decision to expand Heathrow beyond lobbying campaigns or public protest. We noted that, as it was a contentious issue, the exploration of various airport expansion plans by the Airports Commission had received a lot of press attention and considered that members of the public would therefore recognise the context of the ads and appreciate that they represented the views and expectations of Heathrow Airport Ltd, formed upon a reasonable and robust evidence base.
1. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged Heathrow's assertion that a hub airport was required for an increase in trade, which they considered to be sustainable growth that could support the economy, and that Heathrow was the only hub airport in the country. We also understood that Heathrow currently handled a significant proportion of UK exports, and that the report commissioned to explore the economic impact of the expansion projected economic benefits of several billion pounds through increased passenger numbers and job creation. Although we appreciated that some complainants were concerned that a shift in tourism from the UK to abroad as a result of the expansion would have a detrimental effect on the economy, we understood that Heathrow had more inbound than outbound tourists, which would therefore not contribute a negative net effect on GDP. We also understood that both inbound and outbound tourism had been taken into account when calculating the potential economic benefits of the expansion. In the light of these factors, we considered it reasonable for Heathrow to make claims relating to the potential for the expansion to increase their ability to make this type of contribution to the economy. In the context of ads outlining Heathrow's argument for their own expansion, we did not consider that statements such as "If we want Britain's economy to keep growing, we need to grow Heathrow" and "Expand Heathrow and you open up her future" would be understood by consumers as an absolute claim that only the expansion of Heathrow would lead to economic recovery to the exclusion of any other plan, but instead that they would be recognised as an expression of the advertisers' contention, based on their understanding of the likely economic impact, that the expansion of Heathrow would be the best way of supporting the growth of the UK economy. We therefore concluded that the ads did not mislead about the relationship between the expansion and the growth of the UK economy.
We investigated ads (a), (d), (e) and (f) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading Advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but did not find them in breach.
2. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the ads referred clearly to economic growth as a result of the Heathrow expansion, and considered that consumers would recognise that the 'benefits' referred to for future generations were in the context of its economic impact rather than any other aspect of the expansion. We appreciated that plans to increase traffic of any kind were likely to draw criticism based on environmental concerns, and that the aviation industry in particular was subject to this. We also considered that consumers would already be aware of the potential environmental impacts of such an expansion and an increase in air travel. However, we noted that the ads did not make claims referring to environmental sustainability or imply in any way that the expansion would have no environmental impact. We also noted Heathrow's assertion that, although there would be an increase in air traffic, imminent developments in aviation could allow this increase to keep within the government-mandated limits on carbon emissions. Although we understood that the Sustainable Aviation 'Road-Map' placed heavy emphasis on carbon trading without fully explaining the mechanism that would allow for this, we nonetheless considered that the general assertion of appropriate reductions in carbon emissions was adequately supported by the 'likely' scenario from the Committee on Climate Change report. As such, we considered it was reasonable for Heathrow to describe the potential benefits for future generations as they had done, and concluded that the ad did not mislead about the possible impact on climate change of the Heathrow expansion.
We investigated ads (a) and (f) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading Advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but did not find them in breach.
3. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the claims referring to economic and employment benefits were presented in absolute language, such as "will deliver." However, we also noted that they referred to future economic developments that were dependent on a wide range of factors, the majority of which could not be definitively predicted without some margin for error, and considered that consumers would recognise that statements relating to future economic performance were always subject to a certain degree of uncertainty. We therefore considered that consumers would recognise that statements such as, "it will deliver more than 120,000 new jobs", were a reflection of the advertisers' best estimate rather than a guarantee of economic activity. Nonetheless, we considered that consumers would still expect such statements to be based on robust economic projections. We considered the report submitted in support of the employment claims. We understood that the £100 billion figure had been reached by combining two sets of projections, the first of which was estimated at £30−45 billion in reduced losses by one model and just over £50 in GDP boosts by the second. We also understood that the second projection suggested a potential benefit of £200 billion, only a quarter of which had been taken forward to reflect the potential for full impact to remain unreached. Although we noted that the first figure had been toward the higher end of the estimates, we considered that this was sufficiently balanced by being combined with a very conservative second figure. With regard to the calculations of employment opportunities we noted that similarly conservative parameters had been used, such as factoring in Job Seekers' Allowance when estimating the increase in spending power as a result of the expansion rather than assuming a base of zero. We noted that the practicality of these figures was borne out by the Airports Commission report that post-dated the publication of the ads. Because we considered that the statements were readily identifiable as economic projections that would not be regarded as anything other than the advertisers' measured expectations about the benefits of the project, and because they were based on appropriate models of future activity, we concluded that the ads were not misleading.
We investigated ads (a), (b), (f) and (g) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading Advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but did not find them in breach.
4. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged Heathrow's assertion that the CBI recommended hub-based expansion, and that several businesses and public figures had called for either hub expansion in general or Heathrow specifically. We understood that Heathrow was currently the only UK hub airport, and that doubts had been raised in some quarters as to the feasibility of other airports to provide a similar level of connectivity. However, we also understood that there was opposition to the Heathrow expansion on the grounds that the expansion of other airports would free-up sufficient capacity so as to allow additional flights to emerging markets from Heathrow, and that this would form part of the official considerations by the Airports Commission. In the context of the ad as a whole we considered that consumers would appreciate that the claims in question were a statement of the advertiser's expectations regarding the benefits of their expansion plans, and that this was based on their own understanding and modelling of the effects of the third runway over other plans, in conjunction with current and historical information about long-haul flight viability. We considered that, in the light of the CBI report and the support they had garnered from businesses, it was reasonable for Heathrow to present their opinion on the trade benefits of the expansion in such a way and concluded that the ads were not misleading.
We investigated ads (a) and (f) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading Advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors), but did not find them in breach.
5. Not upheld
The ASA understood that changes to large transport infrastructure systems, like airports, necessitated government support in the first instance and without such support were very unlikely to be implemented. We considered that readers would interpret the claim as a statement that hub expansions in other EU countries had the requisite official backing for such plans in order to allow them to happen, rather than a statement that the plans had unilateral support from the country as a whole. We understood that there had been some public resistance to the Frankfurt expansion, but considered that the decision to proceed with the plans indicated government support for the scheme despite public concerns. We therefore concluded that the ad did not mislead about government support for European hub airports.
We investigated ad (a) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading Advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but did not find it in breach.
6. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the complainant felt that the expansion would not benefit those living or working in the footprint of the proposed new runway, as well as those affected by new flight paths and schedules. However, although we appreciated that this was likely to be the case, we considered that this did not preclude the advertiser from claiming benefits for UK citizens in general as long as such benefits could be adequately demonstrated. We understood that Heathrow believed that job creation and general economic growth would be beneficial for those across the country, as growth in GDP could contribute to areas such as welfare and healthcare (depending on government choice), and induced and catalytic employment was more far-reaching than just the immediate Heathrow area. We also acknowledged their assertion that increased capacity would drive down prices for travellers from all UK regions flying from Heathrow. We considered that it was reasonable to claim such benefits, particularly those arising from GDP growth, would be felt by those across the country and from varying demographic groups. We therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated ad (c) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading Advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), but did not find it in breach.
The ASA considered that, although it appeared in the context of an ad primarily composed of the advertisers' arguments for the expansion, the claim as it was stated was presented as objective fact rather than an educated assumption, and that consumers would therefore expect it to be capable of robust substantiation. We noted that the reports provided by Heathrow in support of this claim based the "twenty times" figure on the value of trade with emerging markets that had either daily or better direct flight connections to the UK or 'poor connectivity' (which, although unspecified, we understood to mean less frequent direct flights and/or daily indirect connections). We considered that consumers were likely to understand the claim as a comparison between business generated when taking a direct or indirect flight to the same destination, but that the actual comparison was between those destinations with daily direct flights and others with poorer connectivity. We also considered that the claim implied that the direct flights were the cause of the increased monetary value of trade with these emerging markets whereas other factors, such as the relative economic development of those countries with and without daily direct flights, would also impact upon trade value. We noted that the background report to "One Hub or None" itself cautioned that direct flights would not automatically lead to more trade and that multiple factors could influence the amount of bilateral trade, and did not explain how the twenty times figure was arrived at. Due to the discrepancies between how the claim was likely to be understood and what the supporting evidence stated, as well as the lack of explanation for how the twenty times figure was calculated, we concluded that the claim was not adequately substantiated and that the ad therefore breached the Code.
On this point ad (f) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation).
No further action required with regard to ads (a) to (e) and (g). Ad (f) must not appear again in its current form. We told Heathrow Airport Ltd to ensure that they held robust substantiation for absolute claims made in their future advertising.