Dairy cows are pictured at a dairy farm in Chilliwack, B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Dairy Farmers pull ad after complaints over allegedly misleading the public

Dairy Farmers of Canada was trying to better inform millennials about Canadian dairy, website says

An advocacy group for dairy farmers decided to pull one of its new ads after a number of people complained it misled the public, according to letters sent to complainants from the advertising standards body.

The print ad in question is part of the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s “Honest. Canadian. Dairy.” campaign, which was developed by DDB Canada and launched at the end of January with a planned run until March, according to DDB’s website.

The ad pictures a man standing in front of a pasture with the words “There are zero growth hormones in milk produced in Canada. Like, none,” emblazoned on the sky above his head.

A picture of the ad circulated on social media and angered some animal rights activists, including Torontonian Jenny McQueen, a vegan for more than 25 years who volunteers for several animal rights groups.

READ MORE: B.C. dairy farmers say milk cup is half full in new Canada Food Guide

An animal rights group suggested people submit complaints to Ad Standards to say that milk contains a natural growth hormone, she said.

The Dairy Farmers of Canada “have been informed of the claims made by the lobby group and the information is incomplete and inaccurate,” wrote Lucie Boileau, director of communications for the farmers, in an email. She did not immediately respond to follow-up questions seeking to clarify her response.

McQueen sent her complaint to Ad Standards, a national, not-for-profit advertising self-regulatory body, on Feb. 2.

She was upset that the advocacy group appeared to be trying to mislead the public, and had concerns over the impact hormones may have on human health. More broadly, she said she dislikes the way the animal protein industry treats animals.

McQueen and many other complainants received a response Tuesday to inform them that Ad Standards contacted the advertiser for additional information.

“We were informed by the advertiser that, upon receipt of your complaint, the ad has been permanently withdrawn,” reads the letter signed by Yamina Bennacer, manager of standards at the organization.

Ad Standards will close its file on the matter as a result of this corrective action.

“I was very pleased that they had seen that a company is using language that is not true,” said McQueen.

The national ad campaign is intended to better inform millennials about Canadian dairy and clear up any misconceptions they may have, according to DDB’s website, with “an honest, candid approach to share truths about Canadian dairy products and the industry.”

It shares facts like the average Canadian dairy farm has 89 cows and the corresponding video ad includes a man sharing the names of those 89 cows.

Another print ad includes the text, “Real milk comes from real cows. Anything else is nuts,” highlighting a growing war of words between dairy farmers and alternative milk producers, such as soy or nut milks.

Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

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