A post on the Facebook page of Knights Templar International dated 25 August 2015 stated “This is why we have Templars on the ground in Hungary. Chaotic scenes at the border with Greece, as migrants attempt to clamber on board packed trains You can help our Mission ...remember, if we do not stop them over there the west will be flooded...Your Choice> https://www.knightstemplarinternational.com/donationtoday/” and linked to a news article headed “Macedonia: State of emergency declared over migrants”.
The complainant, who did not believe that the organisation carried out work on the ground, challenged whether the claims “… we have Templars on the ground in Hungary” and “You can help our Mission” were misleading.
Knights Templar International (KTI) said that they had been operating in Hungary for a long time and had members based there who ran pro-life missions, religious outreach missions, political research work and other activities. They said members of their organisation had also travelled to Hungary on a ‘mission’. They provided a number of photos, of which they said some dated from around March 2015 and some from September 2015, which they said showed KTI members meeting with the Vice President of the Hungarian Assembly in the Hungarian Parliament Building as well as visiting the Hungarian/Croatian and Hungarian/Serbian borders.
The ASA considered that readers would understand from the claims in the ad that KTI had, at the time it appeared, members in Hungary carrying out work related to KTI and that donating to them would contribute towards that work. We had been provided with photos which indicated that at some point individuals identifying themselves as KTI observers (via their jackets) had visited Hungary. However, the photos were undated and we had not been provided with any other evidence relating to the organisation’s work in Hungary to demonstrate that at the point the ad appeared KTI had members in Hungary carrying out KTI work. We had also not been provided with evidence that donating funds to KTI would contribute towards activities in Hungary. We therefore concluded that the claims were misleading.
The ad 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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Knights Templar International not to state or imply that members were carrying out work in Hungary related to Knights Templar International unless they held documentary evidence to substantiate that. We also told them not to imply that donations would go towards specific work unless that was supported by evidence.