Security Film Ad Banned for Warnings About Terrorism and Flying Glass

June 21st, 2012 by Editor

The London-based Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an ad by a United Kingdom-based window film company questioning the possibility of flying glass and glass breakage in light of the upcoming Olympic Games in London.

The text of the ad, published by United Kingdom-based Northgate Solar Controls (NSC), read as follows: “How safe are you behind your glass? Clear anti-shatter window film helps to: Prevent flying glass from explosions. Stop spalling if glass is hit. Reduce risk by ensuring glass breaks safe. Upgrade glass to comply with BS6206 Standards.”

According to the report from the ASA, the NSC ad also claimed there was a “red alert for [the] Olympic Games” in place and made references to “terrorist threats.” The flyer was mailed to about 4,400 London and surrounding county businesses by the company in February 2012.

The mailed letter that accompanied the ad included the following: “You may have already been visited by the met[ropolitan] police or other government agency to warn you of the current highest level security alert which is being issued ahead of and for the duration of the Olympic games … The message that the police and the home office are giving includes the precaution to consider the strength of your glazing and upgrade it where necessary with the application of a tough clear security film as a deterrent to lethal flying shards of glass in the event of a bomb blast in the vicinity of your building …”

The ASA began to investigate after it received a recipient’s complaint questioning the offensiveness of the NSC ad and whether it “caused undue fear and distress.”

In response to the ASA investigation, NSC officials advised the agency that “the mailing was not intended to offend or cause undue fear or alarm but was simply to help minimize the risks in the event of an explosion by the application of bomb-blast film.”

The company also states “that prior to compiling the mailing, the company had been told by a customer based in North London that the police had visited them and told them they needed to have bomb blast film applied before the Olympics due to the increased risk of terrorism and in view of protecting members of the public from shattered glass,” according to the report.

NSC also advised ASA that it did receive a complaint about the image of the bus bombing and then withdrew the mailing, according to the report.

As part of its investigation, the ASA also contacted the police about the ad, and, according to the report, police officials advised that “they routinely encouraged businesses and other organizations to implement protective security measures, with laminated glass being one such measure …”

The ASA alleges that the ad made false claims, such as that the highest security alert was in place and that security measures relating to film installation were included in listed precautions for the Olympics, and therefore the complaint was warranted.

“We also noted the mailing’s references to ‘suicide bombers’ and ‘undetected sleeper cells’ and, taking all of the above, considered that the tone of the mailing had exaggerated the potential threat faced by businesses due to the Olympic Games and could have caused undue fear and distress to someone who received the mailing,” writes the ASA.

ASA concluded that the ad breached Committee Advertising Practice Code, specifically rules 4.1 and 4.2, which claim violation of harm and offense, and decided the ad “must not be repeated again in its current form.”

According to its website, the ASA is an independent organization “that monitors advertising and ensures that consumers can trust what they see in advertisements.” The group both accepts complaints and makes judgments about advertising code violations within the United Kingdom.

In cases such as that of the NSC ad, the ASA’s procedure is to publish a report about its investigation and decision. If companies do not adhere to its decisions, ASA officials say they “reserve the right to refer them to other bodies for legal sanctions, such as the Office of Fair Trading.”

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  1. You have to be really careful about your advertising these days. Even though there is a real risk of a terrorist attack during the London Olympic games people don’t want to be reminded of that. I think banning this ad was unjust but companies must still be diligent in evaluating the potential problems with the ad.

  2. This doesn’t surprise me when it comes to the UK and their laws. You’ve got to be careful what you say, or advertise in this case, when it comes to anything that has to do with terrorism and especially lately with the Olympics right around the corner.

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