Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has landed in hot water with regulators for claiming that 'wool is just as cruel as fur'.
An anti-wool poster campaign from the group has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for its "misleading" claims around the industry.
10 people complained about the out-of-home creative, which ran on the side of buses in February, contesting that sheep shearing was crucial to maintaining the animal’s welfare.
The ad featured a woman with the neck of her jumper covering her face alongside the line: 'Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes. Wool is just as cruel as fur. Go wool-free this winter.'
Peta fought back by claiming that the public was simply not aware of the abuse suffered by sheep in the wool industry, comparing it to the cruelty that exists in the fur trade.
It provided the ASA with reports on abuse by farmers during the shearing process. The activists also argued that sheep shearing has only become necessary as a result of genetic manipulation on behalf of industry.
However, the ASA disagreed, drawing the conclusion that UK safety provisions aimed at preventing cruelty towards sheep rendered the ad "misleading".
It said in the ruling: “We considered people who saw the ad would interpret the claim ‘wool is just as cruel as fur’ as equating the conditions in which sheep were kept and the methods by which wool was obtained with the conditions and methods used in the fur industry.”
It went on: “However, sheep were not killed for their wool as animals were in the fur industry and there were standards in place relating to their general welfare including relating to the shearing process. We therefore concluded on that basis that the claim was misleading and in breach of the Code."
In a statement, Peta said it was disappointed by the ruling.
"Nevertheless, we'll continue to urge decent people to steer clear of wool, and we have plans to run a modified version of the ad in numerous cities this winter," said the group's director Elisa Allen.