By Daniel Hunter
An advert featuring Tian Tian and Yang Guang, the resident pandas at Edinburgh Zoo, has caused a stir with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The Scottish government planned to release a press advert that suggested China had 'gifted' the two pandas to them. However, as two animal charities pointed out, the pandas were in fact leased to Edinburgh Zoo at a considerable price.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled the advert, which featured in newspapers under the headline: 'Celebration of links between Scotland and China as pandas arrive in Edinburgh', was misleading.
The advert went on to say: "Now, in a symbolic gesture of friendship between the countries, and following five years of political and diplomatic talks, the Chinese are gifting two giant pandas to live in Scotland, under the custodianship of Edinburgh Zoo.
"The pandas' presence in Scotland is a sign of a strengthened alliance with China, and opens up new opportunities in trade, culture and education with the world's fastest growing economy."
The ASA ruled against the advert and released a statement explaining their decision.
"We considered that consumers would interpret the terms 'gift' and 'gifting' to mean that the pandas were given without payment," it read.
"Although we acknowledged that the Scottish government had not made any payment, we considered that the sum paid by the charity that owned Edinburgh Zoo would be considered by consumers to be a commercial arrangement.
"In the absence of text stating that the 'gift' was in exchange for a substantial payment, we considered that the claim 'in a symbolic gesture of friendship between the countries' in conjunction with the terms 'gift' and 'gifting' implied that the pandas were provided by China for free.
"Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading."
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