Tag Archives: Advertising Standards Authority

Atos Ahoy!

To the list of undesirable attributes displayed by Atos, such as incompetence, heartlessness and arrogance, we can now add dishonesty.

I’ve read many accounts of work assessments being carried out by people who have a very tenuous grasp of honesty, but the Advertising Standards Authority’s latest findings speak to a corporate disdain for the truth.

The parts of the ad in contention were

Each year Atos Healthcare process over 1.2 million referrals for medical advice completing over 800,000 face-to-face medical assessments”  and  “our 1700+ healthcare professionals

The ASA upheld the complaint and said that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

That was on the 4th of April and yet, today, the 8th of April, I visited the Atos website, and took this screenshot:

You should be able to see the detail if you click on the image, but in case you can’t, here’s a close-up of the relevant part:

They’ve not changed a single word.

EDIT TO ADD: Still no change, as of 19th April.

That the advertisement was misleading is bad enough, but Atos compounded the aforementioned arrogance by not even bothering to respond to the ASA, which was itself a breach of the  Committee of Advertising Practice code.

The DWP need to address this issue too, and a FOI request has been made.


How to Miss the Point Completely

Some Christians believe that prayer can cure all ailments. Their belief is so strong that they’ll advocate prayer instead of, rather than in addition to, medical treatment. The Advertising Standards Authority told a group of such Christians in Bath (with the slightly risqué acronym H.O.T.S.) that they couldn’t make the positive claim in their promotional literature that prayer heals. They weren’t saying that payer doesn’t work, just that there’s no credible evidence that it does. All there is, is personal anecdotes.

Now, three MPs, one from each of the main parties, plus a Liberal Democrat, have written a letter to the ASA, complete with a threat, albeit an empty one. There’s also a rather stupid attempt at “proof” in the mention of Fabrice Muamba who, it is true, was prayed for by a lot of people but who, it is demonstrably true, also received quite intensive, and prompt, medical attention.

So, the burden of proof remains with the Christians, who are making the claim that prayer works, and not with the ASA, who are merely saying “show us some evidence”.

Here is the letter, copied from the Liberal Conspiracy blog, well worth a read in its own right:

Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury
Chairman, Advertising Standards Agency

21st March 2012

We are writing on behalf of the all-party Christians in Parliament group in Westminster and your ruling that the Healing On The Streets ministry in Bath are no longer able to claim, in their advertising, that God can heal people from medical conditions.

We write to express our concern at this decision and to enquire about the basis on which it has been made. It appears to cut across two thousand years of Christian tradition and the very clear teaching in the Bible. Many of us have seen and experienced physical healing ourselves in our own families and churches and wonder why you have decided that this is not possible.

On what scientific research or empirical evidence have you based this decision?

You might be interested to know that I (Gary Streeter) received divine healing myself at a church meeting in 1983 on my right hand, which was in pain for many years. After prayer at that meeting, my hand was immediately free from pain and has been ever since. What does the ASA say about that? I would be the first to accept that prayed for people do not always get healed, but sometimes they do. That is all this sincere group of Christians in Bath are claiming.

It is interesting to note that since the traumatic collapse of the footballer Fabrice Muamba the whole nation appears to be praying for a physical healing for him. I enclose some media extracts. Are they wrong also and will you seek to intervene?

We invite your detailed response to this letter and unless you can persuade us that you have reached your ruling on the basis of indisputable scientific evidence, we intend to raise this matter in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

Gary Streeter MP (Con)
Chair, Christians in Parliament

Gavin Shuker MP (Labour)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament

Tim Farron (Lib-Dem)
Vice Chair, Christians in Parliament


EDIT TO ADD: Click here for another excellent post from Liberal Conspiracy.