According to the New Zealand Herald, one of two complaints made against a Greenpeace ad has been upheld in court. The controversial ad stated that the recent Rena Oil Spill killed as many as 20,000 birds in the surrounding area and suggested that deep sea drilling could kill 1000 times more. The court upheld the first complaint as a gross exaggeration of the number of birds killed during the spill. According to reports, the number is actually somewhere between 1300 and 2000 birds. The court therefore ruled that the ad could mislead or deceive readers.
The second complaint contested the assertion that 1,000 times more birds could die. Greenpeace responded stating that this was not meant to be taken literally (20 million birds would not die), but that the damage would be detrimental to the environment as a whole. The court declined to uphold this complaint, stating that the use of the word “could” made the claim an opinion, not a fact.
As this case shows, you can’t believe everything you read in the newspapers, especially the ads.
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