IRL Impersonation Ads in Local Elections Denounced by Ombudsman (1)
Several imitation campaign ads spouting an opposite message have appeared on the streets of Tallinn, precipitating a call to the police and criticism from an advertising ethics expert.
The design of the ads follows the style of IRL's posters, but the text declares "Up With Homeowner Expenses." No one has come forward to claim responsibility. As IRL has aimed most of its own rhetorical energy toward Center Party in hopes of ending longtime mayor Edgar Savisaar's tenure, the conventional wisdom says it is a Center ad. But the party denies this.
"To my knowledge this is not an ad ordered by Center. It undoubtedly, however, draws attention to a big problem for many people, which IRL does not want to deal with in spite of the promises it has made," Center Party spokesman Taavi Pukk told uudised.err.ee.
Marek Reinaas, who is serving as an election ethics ombudsman in a project launched by the NGO umbrella group at ngo.ee, said it was a clear case of misleading voters. "For one or another party to impersonate its competitor is certainly not in conformity with any good practice," he said.
One of the most important principles, he said, is that the consumer should understand who is the advertiser.
"The person who created the ad violated another principle of the good practices - the topics and promises of the elections should be connected to the jurisdiction of the body being elected. Unfortunately the topic of homeowner expenses is in the purview of the Cabinet and the local government doesn't have very much say," he said.
IRL said it had notified the police about the posters and was waiting for a response.