Meat eaters are offended by a Viva! ad showing the horrors of animal agriculture, but overlook the horror of slaughterhouses and factory farming.

An advert run by a vegan charity that attacked ‘killer’ Muller Corner yoghurts and featured a woman with fake blood pouring from her mouth has been banned for ‘graphic and gory imagery’ that could cause serious, widespread offence.

Viva! ran the clip on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, as well as other apps such as DuoLingo.

In the video, a woman eats a ‘Mother’s Grief’ yoghurt filled with offal that seems to be a fake umbilical cord and blood. By the end of the segment, fake blood oozes from her mouth and runs from her chin.

A voiceover said: ‘New from Killer Yoghurts — the umbilical cord flavour. Produced with only the finest ingredients, the stolen milk of grieving mothers. Taste the torment in every mouthful. Blended with brutality. Be complicit, with Killer Yoghurts.’

The advert is then replaced by images of cows, as the voiceover continues: ‘It’s a killer. These Muller cows have never grazed a blade of grass. All mothers have their newborn babies stolen. Baby calves are denied their mother’s love. Mother cows are killed when their milk production falls. Many newborn babies are slaughtered.’

The upbeat music in the first half of the advert is replaced by sinister music accompanied by the sound of distressed cows.

A final scene showed an indoor dairy farming shed filled with cows and the text: ‘Excited to tuck in? Intensive dairy farming is on the rise in the UK.’

The ASA advertising watchdog received seven complaints and ruled that the ad breached its standards. In a statement on its website, the watchdog said: ‘The ASA acknowledged that the ad was intended to be a parody of ads for popular food products like fruit yoghurts, which were typically light-hearted and wholesome in tone.

‘However, the ad featured blood and offal being mixed into the yoghurt in the place of fruit or jam, with close-up shots of the offal. The woman was shown eating the blood and offal whilst smiling, with blood dripping from her mouth and teeth. Although we acknowledged people would understand the ad was intended as a comment on animal welfare, we considered the graphic and gory imagery was likely to shock and cause a sense of disgust.

‘We considered that the juxtaposition of the woman’s happy and wholesome demeanour with graphic close-ups of blood and offal was likely to further highlight the graphic and gory imagery. We also considered language such as “the umbilical cord flavour”, “… the stolen milk of grieving mothers. Taste the torment in every mouthful.

‘Blended with brutality. Be complicit, with Killer yoghurts”, alongside the graphic and gory imagery, was likely to be seen as frightening and distressing to children in particular. We acknowledged that an ad referencing animal welfare might cause distress to some people and, in light of the language and gory scenes, we considered the distress likely to be caused by this ad, particularly to children, was unjustified.

‘We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and unjustified distress.’

Viva! had told the ASA that the advert was designed as a ‘theatrically staged parody’ and that it had been targeted at adults only. The charity said viewers were ‘increasingly numbed to shock factors like death and violence on TV’ and believed the ad was mild in comparison.

But the ASA ruled that it had appeared via YouTube to those under 18, and that Viva!’s attempts to only have the advert seen by adults were ‘insufficient’. They added the content of the video would be particularly distressing to children. It said that the advert must not run again in its current format, adding: ‘We told Viva! to ensure future ads were prepared responsibly, were appropriately targeted and did not contain graphic scenes or language that were likely to cause unjustified distress to viewers.’

Speaking on the decision, Viva!’s founder and director Juliet Gellatley stated: ‘This ruling by the ASA is unjust and smacks of censorship. The New From Killer Yoghurts advert is an obvious parody, designed to draw attention to the suffering that dairy cows experience every day. There are plenty of gory adverts for fantasy horror films that are shown on TV and online without any issues.

‘Over three million people saw Viva!’s advert and were unoffended, but following just seven complaints the ASA decided to shut it down. This is ludicrous and perhaps has more to do with our ad making people think about the reality of the dairy industry. Adverts for meat and dairy products that falsely show farmed animals living in idyll are allowed to be shown despite them portraying staggeringly fake realities. Viva! has provided evidence that shows it was a third party who incorrectly showed our advert to children without our knowledge; however, this was totally disregarded by the ASA.

‘The ASA is not a government organisation; the work they do is funded by the advertising industry. Given how they turn a blind eye to blatantly false claims made by the meat and dairy industries yet jump on anything potentially seen as controversial by organisations such as Viva!, it’s clear where their loyalties lie. I have heard many say the ASA is at odds with their slogan, “Legal, decent, honest and truthful”.’

Original source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk