Monday, October 10, 2011

One: Whatever people say I am, that's what I'm not

There's been a bit of squawking over the refusal of Clearcast to clear Bono and co's One advert to be shown on the television. Clearcast have explained they had no choice:

We have been unable to clear this ad to date as we believe it is currently in breach of Rule 7 of the BCAP Code, which is itself based on the provisions of Section 321 of the Communications Act 2003. This imposes a blanket prohibition on “political” advertising on television and it is OFCOM who have retained responsibility for applying these rules. If an advertiser or an ad appears to be in breach of these provisions, neither Clearcast nor BCAP have any discretion in the matter of approval.

These rules ensure that ads aren’t being broadcast by bodies whose objects are wholly or mainly political. ONE appears to be caught by this rule as they state that part of their raison d’être is to pressure political leaders. It also appears that a number of the claims are made in the version of the ad that we have seen are directed towards a political end, which is again against the rules. This ad is not “banned”; we are in discussions with ONE to see if there is any way that the apparent legal hurdles can be overcome and the ad cleared.
One are fuming at this, insisting that it isn't fair:
He said: "ONE is not a political party and we have no political affiliation."
You know, that's funny, because last year when people got upset that One raised sums of money, very little of which went directly to the people it was supposed to be helping, the One campaign spoke to everyone like we were stupid children saying 'of course we don't help people directly, because we're a political organisation:
The whole point of ONE is to combat extreme poverty by raising awareness and changing government policy - it has never been to directly fund charity projects in developing countries, work which is done well by other NGOs. ONE was created by philanthropists to tackle the structural policy issues such as debt, trade, and access to health care and other resources which make it hard to break out of extreme poverty.
As other examples of our work, ONE helped successfully press for debt relief for Haiti after the devastating earthquake there and we recently played an important role in the passage of a law in the US requiring oil companies to report any payments to government officials - an effort to end backhanded deals between energy companies and corrupt politicians that hurt people in poor countries.
When it's accused of spending cash on lobbying, One bristles and snaps "of course, we're a political organisation"; when told they can't have an advert because they're political, they then try and deny that they're political. Although not very well, as Adrian Lovett, the European director, says shortly after denying they're political:
[O]ur ad highlights the desperate plight of 750,000 people in east Africa who the UN warns could die before the end of the year. Unless we keep the spotlight on this crisis and the need for urgent action, those people will be forgotten. Who can object to that message?
Which is refreshingly simple minded: we're not political, we just have a political message, but it's a good one so can't we just have an advert. I'm sure the BNP think that no right-thinking person could object to their aims and objectionable objectives, so on the same basis, would One want their ads to be aired? How about a counterpoint to the One campaign - let's say a None campaign - which wanted airtime to argue that "it's Africa's problem, why should European money solve it?" Providing they weren't an actual party and just really believed in their message, would One support their ads popping up during Phil Spencer's new property show?

There's a sense here that the One campaign is more about the rich and the powerful wanting to be seen to be doing good, and the problem is that Clearcast is stopping Nescafe shill George Clooney and suitcase salesman from Bono from bolstering their credentials by showing their caring side.

Still, the upside is that One can spend the money they're saving in TV time by buying some more leather covered Moleskin notebooks to give to journalists.