A raft of complaints about an anti-hunting campaign lead by cosmetics company Lush have been partly upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
In all, 129 people wrote to the ASA about a leaflet entitled “Hunting ban? What hunting ban” and postcard entitled “The hunts are still at it!” distributed last year in the chain of Lush stores, written by the Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA).
They also complained about an online sales promotion on the Lush website, for a Fabulous Mrs Fox Bubble Bar — from which 100% of the proceeds went to the HSA — that included information about hunting and the HSA.
In October, Horse & Hound urged readers to boycott the chain as a result of the campaign.
There were nine “main” complaints in all — three of which were upheld in an adjudication by the ASA published this morning, 16 June.
Complaints were upheld over the statements that hunts are still intent on breaking the law, that police are not properly enforcing the Hunting Act and that hounds were put down after a short time and fed to the pack.
On the later, the ASA stated: “We did not consider that anecdotal evidence [to support the claim, provided by Lush], which was also dated, was sufficiently robust substantiation to support the claims that hounds were fed back to the pack when their hunting lives were over.”
Countryside Alliance head of media Tim Bonner said: “The Lush campaign was, as the ASA has found, based on misleading and inaccurate claims. On some matters it has only itself to blame for working with an extreme organisation like the Hunt Saboteurs Association that has a long history of inaccuracy and exaggeration, but on the issue of illegal hunting we have some sympathy with Lush.
“The ASA, however, is right to have ruled there is no evidence to support the claim that ‘hunts were intentionally and frequently breaking the law’, and with just three hunts successfully prosecuted in the five years since the Act came into force it would have been extraordinary if it had found otherwise.”
Following the story in H&H in October, 13,741 people joined Facebook group “Boycott Lush for LIFE not just for Christmas”.
Many of those complained to the ASA that Lush’s campaign material was offensive to, and unfairly denigrated, hunts and hunting people.
The ASA have banned the leaflet, but environmentalist Mark Constantine, who founded Lush in 1995, said: “It won’t make any difference — won’t print any more of that leaflet, but we didn’t want to.”
• For more on this story, see next week’s issue of Horse & Hound (24 June).