An ad campaign run by Donald Trump’s Scottish golf resort attacking plans for a windfarm has been banned on the grounds that it was misleading.
The US billionaire has threatened to take legal action against plans approved by Scottish ministers to build offshore turbines that he claims will ruin the view from his £750m golf resort in Menie, Aberdeenshire.
Trump International Golf Club Scotland (TIGS) ran ads in Dundee’s Courier and Aberdeen’s Press and Journal newspapers with the line “Is this the future for Scotland?”.
The ad featured wind turbines overlooking a motorway – with the caption “image taken in California” – and the line “Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy!”.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 21 complaints about the ad, including from Patrick Harvie, a member of the Scottish parliament, and campaigning group Yes2Wind.com.
The complainants argued Trump’s ad could not back up the claim that tourism would be put in jeopardy by the windfarm, and that the image of turbines by a US motorway gave a misleading picture of what might happen in Scotland.
TIGS submitted a report to the ASA which showed that windfarms close to tourist resorts “inevitably deter tourists and harm tourism”.
The ASA said that the claim “tourism will suffer” was a subjective statement and that its analysis of studies showed “there was little evidence of a negative effect and, over time, hostility to windfarms lessened and they became an accepted and even valued part of the scenery”.
“While a concentration of windfarms might have serious implications for a limited number of individual households, the impact of windfarms on Scottish tourism was very small,” the ASA said. “Because we had not received evidence that tourism would significantly suffer as a result of windfarms in Scotland we concluded that the claim had not been substantiated.”
The ASA said that as TIGS had not substantiated the claim then the image was also misleading, and therefore banned the ad.
“The ad must not appear again in its current form,” the ASA said. “We told Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd not to make claims unless they could be substantiated with robust evidence and not to use misleading imagery.”
The ad also featured a picture of Scottish first minister Alex Salmond smiling below the text: “This is the same mind that backed the release of terrorist al-Megrahi, ‘for humane reasons’ – after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie. Take action. Write, demonstrate and protest Alex Salmond.”
Readers complained that the references to the Lockerbie bombing were inappropriate and likely to cause offence.
The ASA dismissed these complaints, saying that it considered that readers were likely to find the comments “distasteful” rather than offensive, and concluded that the claim therefore did not breach the advertising code.
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