Advertising Standards Canada upholds ruling against Friends of Science billboard

The Friends of Science billboard in Calgary.
The Friends of Science billboard in Calgary.

TORONTO – A decision by Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) doesn’t think the Friends of Science Society are all that friendly to science.

The ASC received 96 complaints about a billboard ad in Montreal that had a picture of the sun with the Earth beside it and the words: “The Sun is the Main Driver of Climate Change. Not You. Not CO2” in two areas of Montreal.

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“That’s quite a lot for us,” said Janet Feasby, vice president of the ASC. “Because the complaints are mostly about retail advertising, it’s usually just one or two… 10 would be a lot.”

In March the ASC found that the ad violated clauses 1(b), (e) — which deals with accuracy and clarity — and 8 –which deals with professional or scientific claims — of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.

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“After careful consideration, Council found that the categorical and unequivocal claims made in both advertisements could not be supported by the preponderance of current evidence on the matters in dispute,” the council wrote in their decision. “In addition, Council found in the case of the advertisement that claimed ‘The sun is the main driver…’, that it omitted relevant information, namely that a number of factors have led to climate change, of which the sun is just one.”

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In response to the original decision, the Friends of Science in part said, “Friends of Science Society disagree that climate change is the most serious threat to humankind or that carbon dioxide is more significant than the sun, which is 1 million times the size of the earth. Regarding the issue of scientific accuracy, it is unreasonable to expect that a billboard message of ~ 7 words could reflect the scope and nuances of climate science – a complex field.”

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The ASC is a self-regulatory body, independent of the government and is a voluntary process. So how do you make sure that one complies?

“In our experience we’ve had excellent support. It’s been in place since 1957 and it’s very, very rare that an advertiser doesn’t comply with a decision,” said Feasby.

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If one doesn’t comply the ASC would approach the television station or owners of the billboards.

And on another scientific note, The Chemtrail Girls were also found to be in violation of the Code. Their transit ads consisted of a jet plane leaving condensation trails. The image was encircled in red with a line crossing it out. Written on the ad, was, “You are being sprayed with chemicals. Stop Geoengineering.”

The council found that they violated clauses 1 (e) and 11. Clause 11 deals with superstition and fears.

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