Organisation - November 19, 2011

Animal rights complaint unfounded

The much-debated press release about milk is not an advertisement, rules the Advertisement Code Committee. 'Wakker Dier' animal rights society is 'disappointed' and may lodge an appeal.

Joris Driepinter, the much talked-about mascot of the milk industry.
The Advertisement Code Committee writes in its verdict that there is no evidence that the Dutch Dairy Organization (NZO) commissioned the writing of a press release or that it exercised influence over its wording. Furthermore, Wageningen UR is not an advertiser in the strict sense of the term. The wording itself however did extol the virtues of milk but does not amount to advertising. As such, the complaint from Wakker Dier is not admissible.
Tension
'We are pleased with the verdict that it is not advertising,' responds Simon Vink, spokesperson for Wageningen UR. 'We did have confidence, though, in the judgement. Wakker Dier did not have a single shred of evidence for such a claim from the outset. All that the researcher Sabita Soedema did was to state her conclusions in an interview; no more, no less. Yet, there was still tension wondering if the committee would think the same.'
Gain
Wakker Dier is 'disappointed' and will decide early next week if it will appeal. The society sees that some good has come of this, though. For example, the committee did not categorically rule that press releases from universities can never be advertisements, says Sjoed van der Wouw, spokesperson for Wakker Dier. Furthermore, the committee has described the wording as 'an expression of approval'. Van der Wouw: 'We have in fact achieved a Pyrrhic victory.'
The disputed press release appeared in November 2010. It describes a research project which found a link between the consumption of one to three glasses of milk a day and a reduction in heart and cardiovascular diseases. This conclusion itself did not come under fire, but Wakker Dier criticized the press release for overstating the favourable effects of milk.

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