Nieuws - 29 september 2011

Universities are advertising agencies for industry

Who: Sjoerd van der Wouw, policy officer for animal rights organization Wakker Dier
What? Bringing Wageningen University before the Advertising Code Commission
Where? Coverage in almost all the Dutch media
Why? A university press release headed ‘Milk protects against heart disease'

Bringing a university before the advertising code commission. A PR stunt?
‘That seriously underestimates what the effect will be if we win the case. This will affect the way universities communicate about one quarter of their research. A newsworthy press release in the interests of the sponsor: soon that won't be possible.'
The headline in question has since been adapted
‘It's been acknowledged that mistakes were made, anyway. But it is a wider problem. Advertising agencies haven't been allowed to make claims like this for a long time. It seems they are now using universities for this. Commission a nice cheap research and then make big claims in a press release. More and more often, universities are advertising agencies for industry.
You are very critical of Wageningen
‘Our cause is the fate of farm animals and that quickly brings you to Wageningen. We are not against the WUR; we have commissioned research there ourselves. On the importance of mud baths for pigs.'