Advert ban row refuses to go away as SPT denies it took decision


  By a Newsnet reporter
A row over the banning of an advert by Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) has taken a twist after the transport company at the centre of the controversy denied they took the decision.
Yesterday pro-independence site Wings Over Scotland revealed an advert promoting the site had been pulled by Strathclyde Passenger Transport after complaints were received by the company.

The ad, which had been accepted by advertising agency Primesight had been placed on trains on Glasgow Underground.  However following what was said to have been complaints about the political nature of the adverts, they were pulled by SPT.

In a statement released by the transport organisation, it claimed the advert had been removed because it breached company guidelines which forbid political adverts.

An SPT spokesperson said:

“SPT advertising contract guidelines state that Subway sites should not be used to campaign or lobby for political benefit.  Our advertising agency applies that standard to all commercial bookings but unfortunately this particular ad slipped through their net.  The ad was taken down as a result.”

However the issue has refused to die down, with the story having been picked up by several news organisations including the BBC and STV.

Today SPT denied taking the decision to pull the adverts.  Speaking to Newsnet Scotland a spokesperson explained that the decision had been taken by the advertising agency Primesight.

“It was their decision to pull the adverts” we were told.  Asked if the agency’s decision had been in response to complaints, the SPT spokesperson replied “no” and insisted that Primesight had not been made aware of any complaints before making their decision. 

SPT declined to confirm whether the complaint had come from an organisation or a member of the public, but did confirm that there had been several complaints raised.  The transport organisation spokesperson also denied any official from Glasgow Council had been consulted over the issue.

In a later statement, an SPT spokesperson said: “The decision to remove the posters was taken as it was a breach of our current contract guidelines not as a direct result of any complaints.”

According to Primesight, the advert was initially booked under a charity and did not go through their usual checks, which was why it was allowed to appear on SPT trains.  Pressed on whether this information had come from the client, Wings Over Scotland, a Primesight manager said no, and suggested it was probably a mix up in communications.

Speaking to Newsnet Scotland, Keith Lammie of Primesight said he first became aware of the advert when a colleague remarked that he had seen it on SPT.

According to Mr Lammie, he knew immediately that the advert was political and that it contravened SPT guidelines.  “It was then we took the decision to pull the ad,” he told Newsnet Scotland.

Asked whether he had been made aware of complaints SPT had received relating to the advert, the Primesight manager said he had, but only after the decision had been taken to pull the advert.

“SPT contacted us by email to ask about our procedure in dealing with complaints”.  Asked if the timing of the complaints was merely a coincidence, he replied “yes”.

When asked if he would make a copy of the email communication available to Newsnet Scotland, Mr Lammie declined.