Advertising Standards Authority bans Back Heathrow Advert over its claim most local people back Heathrow expansion
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an advert from Back Heathrow claiming that most local people back expansion at the airport.
The lobby group, which was set up to push for a third runway and which receives funding from Heathrow Airport, was criticised for failing to provide polling data to back up its claim.
Back Heathrow ran a regional press ad headlined “Rallying for the runway” which included with the line “Don’t believe the hype. Most people living in communities near Heathrow Airport support its expansion.”
Back Heathrow said in a footnote to the ad that the latest independent polling showed 60% of local residents had “expressed an opinion in support of expansion”. The ASA found that to get to the statement of 60% in support, the Back Heathrow campaign had excluded 15% of those surveyed on the grounds they had not expressed any opinion, creating their own analysis of just for/against.
“Given that a significant number of respondents, who had expressed an opinion albeit a neutral one, had been excluded from the sample, we considered that this was not a suitable methodology by which to draw such a conclusion,” ruled the ASA. “We considered that the evidence held back by Back Heathrow demonstrated that only 50% of all those polled were in support of expansion.”
The ASA said that therefore Back Heathrow did not substantiate its claim that “most” people living in communities near Heathrow airports supported its expansion. “Consequently, the ad breached the [advertising] code,” the ASA ruled. “We told Back Heathrow not to repeat the claims … unless it held robust substantiation for them.”
John Stewart, chair HACAN, the campaign group which opposes Heathrow expansion, “This ruling is a real blow to Back Heathrow as a cornerstone of its strategy has been to try to convince decision-makers that a majority of local people back a third runway. These claims are now starting to unravel.”