Claims on the “Redecorate a power station chimney” page on www.greenpeacegiving.org.uk stated “Chimneys, they’re a bit dull aren’t they? We prefer them when they have statements written down them, like ‘no new coal’ or ‘stupid’. Actually we’d prefer them if they weren’t there at all, because coal is the most climate-wrecking fuel there is, but we’re working on that one.”
It went on to call for an £80 “gift” to fund direct action against a new power station at Kingsnorth in Kent, adding: “Shutting down dirty power stations is just one of the ways Greenpeace is working to secure a clean energy future, but painting down the side of giant chimneys cranks up the political pressure and throws a vital spotlight on one of the greatest threats to our climate.”
But one complainant challenged whether the claims were harmful and irresponsible, because he believed they encouraged consumers to sponsor an illegal activity and encouraged and condoned anti-social behaviour.
Greenpeace argued that the tone of the heading “Redecorate a power station chimney” was tongue-in-cheek, the example in the ad of the action taken at Kingsnorth power station was clear. It said those activists had not taken direct action with the intention of breaking the law and had subsequently been found not guilty of causing criminal damage.
The ASA considered that defacing property would generally be viewed as anti-social, and would in some circumstances be illegal. It also beleived the claim “£80 Send this Gift. How this gift works …” sought donations in order to make it possible to finance similar direct action by others and encouraged such behaviour.
The regulator concluded that the ad was harmful and irresponsible because it encouraged and condoned anti-social behaviour. It ruled the ad must not appear again in its present form.
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