Industrial advertisers have been dealt a lesson in the importance of veracity in advertising today, thanks to The Times newspaper.

The publication has been forced to withdraw an advert that aimed to boost its environmental credentials after complaints to the UK Advertising Standards Agency, according to New*. The Advertising Standards Agency received 29 complaints in response to The Times' claim.

But what does this mean to those of us advertising widgets, gizmos and gadgets? If the foundation of your sales argument is an environmental or energy saving claim, you had better be prepared for that claim to be tested. In fact, if you claim is in any way technical, then you need to be prepared to back it up. A quick glance through the first ten pages of a popular electrical magazine that landed on my desk today revealed three advertising claims that I don’t believe could be legally backed up with any solid evidence. True, all of them reflected the overall electrical industry’s perception of those products, but none were actually true.

The moral of the story? Today’s newspaper is not tomorrow’s chip paper. It’s tomorrow’s evidence.

*The advert claimed "climate change has allowed the Northeast Passage to be used as a commercial shipping route for the first time". However, the Northeast Passage - a trade route linking North European and Siberian ports to Asia in summer months - has been open since 1934, according to The Register, and was made available as a route for international traffic after the fall of the Soviet Union. Last year, The Times retracted another advert, which claimed that the world's oceans would be free of fish by 2048.

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