‘Have an affair’ ad cleared by industry watchdog

An ad campaign by a Swedish dating site urging people to cheat on their spouses and which shattered the record for consumer complaints, has been cleared by Sweden's advertising watchdog.

'Have an affair' ad cleared by industry watchdog

The Local reported back in March that billboards from the Victoria Milan dating site had appeared on a number of Stockholm bus shelters with a tagline urging marital infidelity.

“Are you married? Liven up your life – have an affair,” the ad suggested.

The ad prompted a storm of consumer protests and the Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen – RO) duly took up the case to consider whether the advert had breached the industry’s code of ethics.

On Wednesday, the ombudsman announced that it had decided to clear the advert and Victoria Milan from any wrongdoing.

“The Advertising Ombudsman’s advisory board has now cleared the advert as the advertising can’t be distinguished the content of the service,” RO wrote in a statement.

RO’s advisory board considers whether an advert is in conflict with International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) rules on advertising and marketing communication, for example by causing offence, being contrary to accepted moral standards, or encouraging behavior that is generally regarded as reprehensible.

For a monthly fee of a few hundred kronor, married men or women can create an account on the site and find a temporary partner.

In one corner of the page is a “panic button” which allows users to quickly leave the site in favour of a less controversial website.

When the controversy over the site’s advertising broke in March the firm’s founder and CEO, Sigurd Vedal, claimed in an interview with the Dagens Industri (DI) daily, that the service was very much in demand.

“I understand that people have a reaction. But we’re launching a service for a behaviour that already exists. Our service is an alternative to divorce,” Vedal told DI.

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Porsche faces fresh fine over 2015 diesel cheating scandal

German prosecutors on Monday said they have launched new legal proceedings over Porsche's role in the diesel emissions cheating scandal that erupted in 2015, which could leave the luxury carmaker facing a large fine.

Porsche faces fresh fine over 2015 diesel cheating scandal
A test drive of a classic open-air Porsche in February 2019. Photo: DPA

“We have opened an administrative proceeding (against Porsche AG) at the end of which a court could impose a fine,” a spokesman for the Stuttgart prosecutor's office told AFP, confirming a Bloomberg News report.

Porsche's parent company Volkswagen and fellow high-end subsidiary Audi 
were last year hit with similar “administrative” cases by prosecutors in Brunswick and Munich, which are separate from any ongoing criminal investigations against company individuals.

Both VW and Audi drew a line under their administrative orders by accepting a financial penalty and admitting responsibility for breaching air pollution requirements.

VW paid €1 billion euros while Audi was slapped with an 800 million euro fine.

Under German law, a company can be fined in this way if executives are found to have failed to take the necessary supervisory measures to prevent illegal activities.

In a statement, Porsche said it would fully cooperate with the investigation but reiterated that it believed the company had not fallen foul of its supervisory duties.

The so-called “dieselgate” scandal broke in 2015 when Volkswagen was forced to admit it had equipped some 11 million diesel cars worldwide with software designed to skirt regulatory tests to make the engines seem less polluting than they were.

VW's own-brand vehicles were among those affected by the years-long scam, as well as cars from its Porsche, Audi, Skoda, Seat stable of brands.

The scandal has so far cost the VW group more than 28 billion in penalties, buy-backs and refits, and it remains mired in legal woes at home and abroad.

Prosecutors in Stuttgart have also opened investigations against two 
current and one former Porsche employee, as well as against persons unknown, on suspicion of fraud and false advertising over the dieselgate scandal.