Advertising Standards Authority bans animal charity ad

  • Published
Spana national press advert
Image caption,
The advert appeared in the national press

An advert for an animal charity working in Afghanistan has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

It ruled the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad's advert was "likely to mislead" for suggesting donations ultimately benefited British troops.

The advert featured a photo of an Afghan man, a donkey and a British soldier and promoted the charity's work treating livestock in Helmand province.

The charity said the MoD had agreed to the advert before its publication.

The ASA, the watchdog of advertising, said the advert must not appear again in its current form.

The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (Spana) claimed that a family's loss of their animals and consequently their livelihood meant they were more likely to be drawn into conflict in Afghanistan.

It went on to say that donations to support the charity's veterinary work with farmers in Helmand would ultimately benefit British troops in Afghanistan.

'Hearts and minds'

The advert's headline read "Saving her life means his just got easier" referring to a donkey and a British soldier respectively.

The advert continued: "To many farming families in Afghanistan, the well-being of their animals can be the difference between life and death.

"Desperation is what fuels this war and the simple act of helping their donkey can help prevent entire families from being drawn into this terrible conflict.

"Hearts and minds can be won over by simple, practical help. Spana provides veterinary care and training which helps local people to look after their livestock.

"Ultimately, our brave British servicemen and women can benefit from the care which you help us provide."


Two people complained to the ASA questioning whether the claims made in the advert could be substantiated.

They also said the advert was offensive and exploited British troops to get donations.

Spana said it had been treating livestock belonging to rural farmers in Helmand after being asked to expand a small-scale veterinary programme started by the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 2009.

The charity added that the programme was part of a wider initiative to win over ordinary Afghans in an attempt to make them less susceptible to the influence of the Taliban.

It therefore believed that supporting its work was clearly of benefit to British troops.

The charity denied that the ad was offensive or exploitative and said the Ministry of Defence had agreed to the advert before it was published.

In its ruling, the ASA said the advert did suggest that money donated to the project would directly help British forces.

It said: "We noted we had not seen evidence that showed a direct correlation between the work of Spana and the effects on the lives of British servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan, and we therefore concluded that the claim was likely to mislead."

However, it said that it was unlikely that most consumers would find the advert exploitative or offensive.

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