Response to ASA Ruling on MART/ABD Poster Campaign
ABD and MART welcome the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority, which failed to uphold two of the three complaints about our "Tagged, tracked and taxed" poster campaign, which were made by a single member of the public.
The complainant had claimed that motorists had been properly consulted about the proposals, and had been found to be in favour of the scheme — so MART was therefore wrong to imply that motorists were being foisted with an unpopular scheme by a "we know best" AGMA. By rejecting this claim, the ASA have vindicated MARTs core proposition — that motorists in particular and the public in general are overwhelmingly against road pricing, and that the consultations carried out by AGMA were inadequate.
The ASA also rejected a second complaint, made on the grounds that the use of the word "tracked" suggested that motorists would be monitored continuously within the charging zone rather than just when crossing its boundaries. Initial plans for Manchester do involve boundary crossing detection only, but the ASA agreed that this constituted tracking. Continuous tracking is part of long term government plans for road pricing, and the Manchester campaign is but one part of a sustained campaign by the ABD and others against these national plans.
A third complaint was upheld on the grounds that the £5 quoted in our posters is in fact the maximum proposed charge for driving into Manchester, so is not the amount everyone would pay. We would argue that the London congestion charge is universally referred to as the "£8 congestion charge", despite there being discounts for residents, certain vehicle types and times when the charge does not apply, so it is perfectly legitimate to refer to £5 as the amount most working people will have to pay to travel from outside Manchester to the City Centre. The London charge, was, of course, initially only £5 and rapidly increased to £8 when revenue fell short of projections.
Overall the ABD and MART are pleased with this ASA ruling — the only complaint which had substance and relevance to our campaign against road pricing in Manchester was soundly rejected. The upheld complaint was made about a slogan on outdoor posters which requires to be read at a glance and therefore cannot cover every possibility for mischievous misinterpretation as if it is a legal document.