The UK Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints against a poster for the EM Radiation Research Trust. The advertisement showed a mobile phone in the front pocket of a pair of jeans, with a warning message that said “Medical experts are warning men not to keep their mobile phones in their pockets as this can have a direct effect on their fertility”.
In its response to the ASA, the EM Radiation Research Trust referred to a report from 2000 that recommended a ‘precautionary approach’ to mobile phone use. It believed there were two areas of high risk when using a mobile phone: holding a mobile phone against the body, such as against the head when making a call, and keeping a mobile phone near to male genitals, when the phone was stored in a trouser pocket. The advertising message was intended to publicise its concerns in a serious but light-hearted manner.
The ASA said EM Radiation had not demonstrated their conclusions were widely accepted within the medical community, as implied by the claim made in the ad. It also considered that the claimed link between mobile phones being kept in pockets and problems with male fertility was likely to cause fear and distress in male consumers, particularly as the ads were being displayed in toilets. Because this claim wasn’t widely accepted within the medical community, the ASA concluded that the ad was likely to cause unjustifiable distress and said it should not appear again in its current form.