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(Updated 7/9/01)

'Dog' advert is censured

A COUNTRY-WIDE advertising campaign based on a spoof missing dog poster was censured by regulators after complaints that it might undermine genuine attempts to find lost dogs,
writes Nick Mays.

The advertisement was part of a campaign by Royal & Sun Alliance insurance. The advertisement which appeared on posters, in newspapers and on television showed a dog with the headline "Where's Lucky?" and was accompanied by apparently handwritten information saying, "This is Lucky. He disappeared last Tuesday. He hates cats but loves chocolate."

Anyone who saw Lucky was urged to call a given telephone number or contact a website. If they did so, they would learn that the appeal was an advertisement for pet insurance for the company's pet insurance service.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 15 complaints saying the advertisement was irresponsible because the public would assume it was real and so it exploited concern for animal welfare.

The advertisers defended the campaign, saying the "sheer scale" of the campaign made it obvious the appeal was not genuine.

However, the ASA upheld the complaints and the offending advertisements were removed.