Controversial dead horse billboard pulled by Ooh Media given all-clear by ad watchdog

dead horse billboardThe Ad Standards Board has dismissed complaints against a controversial anti-racing billboard featuring an image of a dead horse which was pulled by Ooh Media last month following objections from the land owner of the billboard site.

The ruling was posted yesterday afternoon shortly after the death of two horses involved in the Melbourne Cup.

Complainants argued the billboard was “inappropriate for public display” due to the “graphic” nature of the image, with some complainants arguing the content was untrue and misleading.

“The enormous photo of a clearly dead horse is inappropriate for public display,” one complaint said.

“The inference that horse racing kills its equine athletes is misleading and very disappointing.”

“Placing an image of a dead animal is offensive and should not be thrust in peoples faces in this manner. Yes animals die every day from various reasons as do people, yet we do not advertise images of dead people, for obvious reasons. Consideration should also be given to the owners of this unfortunate animal. If it was not hard enough to loose such a beautiful horse they are subjected to this horrendous image as a reminder of their lose,” another complaint read.

In ruling on the billboard, the Ad Standards Board noted that misleading advertising is not a matter considered by the board, with complaints around the content of the billboard being misleading or untrue not being considered.

As the image used in the billboard shows a horse lying down, but it is not clear whether the horse is dead or alive, the board ruled the image was not graphic and was not inappropriate in the context of the community awareness message being advertised.

As the billboard presented only “implied violence” in a manner which the board considered justifiable in the context of the product advertised the complaints were dismissed.

The ad was pulled last month by Ooh Media 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 at the time.

“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.”

Ooh Media had earlier said it does sponsor racing events and said a number of its own executives own race horses.

The billboard was placed by The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses.

Steve Jones


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