An anti-vaccination billboard that resulted in almost 150 complaints, breached the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) code of ethics.
The advertisement for WAVES NZ showed a photograph of a man holding a baby and the words: “If you knew the ingredients in a vaccine, would you RISK it?” The word “risk” was in red capital letters.
The ASA received 146 complaints about the billboard.
The complainants were generally concerned the advertisement was not socially responsible because it implied that vaccines were unsafe, and convincing people not to vaccinate may not only prove harmful to them and their children, but also to wider society.
The complainants also said the advertisement exploited fear in people who do not understand the underlying science behind vaccinations.
WAVES NZ said the intention behind the ad was to promote informed consent and to encourage parents to research the ingredients of vaccines by visiting the WAVES NZ website to access the MedSafe datasheets.
The ASA’s complaints board said the identity of WAVES NZ was not sufficiently clear.
It also said the advertisement was misleading as the likely consumer takeout that vaccination is not safe was not sufficiently substantiated by the advertiser, the advertisement unjustifiably played on fear and was socially irresponsible.
Despite the decision, the billboard continues to feature on the front page of the group’s website.