The advert, which ran for six weeks in October and November 2018 and were estimated to reach 8.7 million people in the Birmingham and London areas, featured an image of a young bull calf and the words: "95,000 Male Calves Shot in a Year – The Dairy Industry's TRASH."
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) received complaints challenging whether the 95,000 male calves figure could be substantiated.
According to Viva!, it provided 'irrefutable evidence' which substantiated the claim, including a report by the Cattle Health and Welfare Group which clearly stated that in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available, 497,000 male calves were born but only 392,000 were registered. This resulted in 95,000 unregistered male calves killed on-farm, among other sources.
The ASA concluded that the advert was not misleading and that consumers would understand that the given figure was the most recent figure available at the time, and that the evidence supplied was sufficiently robust.
"We are thrilled that the ASA has carefully considered our evidence and concluded that the advert is not misleading," Juliet Gellatley, Viva! Founder and Director, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News. "This complaint was submitted in an attempt to weaken our campaign and to mislead the public about the barbaric practices which are still very much present across the UK dairy industry.
"Interestingly, the complainant did not challenge whether male calves are seen as useless by-products or whether they are killed so humans can consume their mother’s milk. Instead, they focused on our choice of statistic which proves just how strong our message is.
"This victory comes as Februdairy draws to a close – another attempt by the dairy industry to combat the rise of veganism. Thankfully, the public are opening their eyes to the reality of the dairy industry and more people are opting out of animal cruelty and choosing to go dairy-free. There has truly never been a better time to go vegan!"