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Ooh Media forced to withdraw anti-horse racing ad as watchdog confirms 150 complaints

dead horse billboardA controversial anti-horse racing advert in Melbourne, which has sparked a flurry of complaints to the advertising watchdog, has been taken down after the land owner where the billboard is located objected to the content.

The ad was set to run for a month ahead of November’s Melbourne Cup. But billboard owners Ooh Media told Mumbrella it has been withdrawn following objections from the land owner.

“The display of advertising content on oOh! sites is subject to the land owner’s approval of the content,” a Ooh Media spokesman said.

“The land owner has notified oOh! today that it does not approve of the advertising content being displayed on its land.  As a result we have acted on the land owner’s request to remove the content.”

It is unclear who the land owner is or whether they objected to the anti-horse racing stance or the image on the billboard.

The Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) confirmed it has received approximately 150 complaints about the billboard on Melbourne’s CityLink freeway which shows a dead horse next to the words: Is the party really worth it?

The ASB said many attacking the image of a dead horse, complained it was too distressing, particularly for children.

The billboard, owned by Ooh Media which sponsors racing events while a number of its own executives own race horses, was placed by The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses.

Ward Young, a spokesman for the group, told Mumbrella the aim is to “raise awareness about what currently happens to racehorses in a number of different fashions”.

It was attacked by Racing Victoria’s chief executive Bernard Saundry who labelled it “distasteful”.

That view appears to be shared by members of the public who told the ASB it found the images on the billboard “upsetting” with children in particular likely to be distressed as seeing the dead horse.

Asked if complaints were still trickling in as ASB spokesman said: “It’s more like a flood than a trickle.”

The complaints will be heard by the ASB board when it next sits in two weeks’ time.

Ooh! Media said it did not let its own views dictate what advertising is displayed, adding the material was reviewed internally and by the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) who was satisfied it did not breach any codes.

Steve Jones

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