You might have seen this advert in the bike press. It’s for SDG saddles and is promoting their range of faux animal skin saddles – this is for the tiger-stripe one, obviously. The list of features includes “made from genuine imitation tiger skin”. So far, so good – it’s reasonably clear that SDG haven’t been cutting bits out of tigers to make saddles out of.
Or is it? For the ad also appears in UK bike industry trade mag BicycleBusiness (it’s on the back cover). And a recipient of the mag, which goes out free to nearly all of the UK trade, has told the editor that he’ll be lodging a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority as it infers that there had been “injuries to tigers”. Rather than the more plausible accusation of “unconvincing Photoshop work”, say.
The splendid irony of the whole thing is that both Carlton Reid, editor of BicycleBusiness, and Darren Mabbott of SDG importers Silverfish, who placed the advert, are vegetarians. Mabbott’s also an ex-hunt saboteur who naturally has pretty strong feelings on the subject of animal cruelty.
“To say that we’re somehow condoning the harming of animals is preposterous,” he said.
The scary thing is that the ASA are obliged to investigate all these complaints. And plenty of ads have been pulled as a result of just one. Which would be a shame – analysis of SDG’s product range suggests that a future ad in the series should feature a saddle-shaped hole in the side of a finely-crafted red velvet sofa. We were looking forward to seeing that one…