This is an unofficial translation of a summary provided by AMICLOR, the Spanish Organization of Users and Workers of Chlorine Chemistry.


The Advertisement

Through the writ of November 29, 1999 directed to the Asociación Autocontrol de la Publicidad (the Spanish equivalent of an advertising standards organization), AMICLOR, the Organization of Users and Workers of Chlorine Chemistry, filed a complaint resulting from an advertising announcement inserted in the press this past August 1st, from the non governmental agency Greenpeace.

The contents of the announcement were the following:

"Not all milk products with dioxin have been taken out of circulation"

Mother's milk is the best food for your baby. Nevertheless, dioxins have been detected in milk. In industrialized countries, certain babies end up ingesting levels of dioxin up to 40 times more than those allowed by the World Health Organization.

The cause? Industries that use chlorine en their processes - like PVC production or oils with PCBs - and emissions from incinerators.

Become a Greenpeace member and help us to pressure governments to take steps now. It's no longer about whales. All of us are in danger now.


The verdict

Past February 7, in Madrid, the plenary session of the Asociación Autocontrol de la Publicidad, presided over by Dr. Eduardo García de Enterría, met and passed the following resolution. We have highlighted the following paragraphs:
  1. The Plenary Session finds that this statement does not guarantee the truthfulness (as Greenpeace contends) of all of the information about dioxins in this ad.
  2. It is evident that when the ad is examined by a normal reader, it will not be considered as simple information about an environmental problem. On the contrary, the reader will refer to phrases like "Become a Greenpeace member." And under these circumstances, rather than presenting an environmental problem, this also constitutes a direct call for membership to an established, concrete organization. So one will conclude that the ad examined pursues member recruitment, and in turn, pursues capturing more economic resources that allow more activity development. It definitely pursues the aim that those who receive the advertisement "purchase", and in turn alters the corresponding economic situation of the condition of the members of the advertising organization. And under these circumstances, the ad examined falls under the sphere of the application of the Deontological Code as much as the ad constitutes a private non-profit institution that assigns funds and resources obtained from their members from praiseworthy purposes.
  3. In the protested ad information is presented that, as much for its content as for the certainly alarmist tone with which it is presented, is apt to provoke fear in its readers. And later, the information presented is used to make a direct call for membership. The ad definitely generates fear in those who read it and is used as an argument to make a call for membership to the organization placing the ad.
  4. The ad aims to present the information about dioxin in our country in an alarmist and possibly unbalanced fashion, using it as an argument for a call to membership.
  5. It deserves an ethical reproach because of the combination of two parts or circumstances in the same message: first, the message that causes fear in the reader regarding a delicate problem, and second, that the message makes a direct call for membership. When these two methods are combined, it is evident that fear is used as a way to recruit new members and as a means of capturing economic resources that allow for the development of the praiseworthy activities of a non-governmental organization.
  6. The Advertising Plenary Council of the Asociación de Autocontrol de la Publicidad reaffirms its insistence that the advertiser correct the protested advertisement for the reasons laid out in this resolution.

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Created: March 5, 2000
Last update: July 15, 2000.

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