‘Where even is God’s Own County?’: Yorkshire Water slammed for advert using footage of Malvern Hills and Russian bar

A sewage activist questioned if the water firm “honestly believes their paying customers have no intelligence” as viewers noticed the video included footage of Malvern Hills
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A sewage activist has slammed Yorkshire Water as “totally embarrassing” as the water company withdrew an advert which featured footage of the Malvern Hills and a Russian pub.

Mark Barrow, an underwater filmmaker at Beneath British Waters, who films the extent of sewage in UK rivers, said Yorkshire Water creating a video “using everything and anything other than Yorkshire shows the lengths they will go to, to lie and cheat”.

The video, which was a teaser for a social media campaign to encourage people in Yorkshire to share tips on saving water, appeared to show the beautiful countryside landscape of the region and friendly locals in a car and at the pub.

But viewers soon noticed the water company had used stock footage as the countryside was the Malvern Hills not the Yorkshire Dales and a man was driving a left-hand car in Ukraine.

The video also used images of a pub - but the pub is actually a bar called Eskimos located in a Russian ski resort several thousand miles away.

Mr Barrow told NationalWorld: “The whole saga of the video is a complete sham. Do they honestly believe their paying customers have no intelligence?

“It’s another example of how money is wasted, money that could be used to improve rivers but that is too easy.”

Yorkshire Water ‘totally embarrassing’ as latest ad uses images of Russian bar. (Photo: Yorkshire Water) Yorkshire Water ‘totally embarrassing’ as latest ad uses images of Russian bar. (Photo: Yorkshire Water)
Yorkshire Water ‘totally embarrassing’ as latest ad uses images of Russian bar. (Photo: Yorkshire Water)

The video comes as Yorkshire Water continues to face backlash over the amount of sewage it pours into the region’s rivers. Four Yorkshire rivers including the Calder, the Aire, the Ouse and the Wharfe are featured in the top 20 of sewage spillage into rivers in England and Wales in 2022.

Last summer, the water company was fined £1.6 million for “reckless” sewage discharges in Bradford. While in May this year, the company wrote to customers to apologise for high levels of sewage being discharged into rivers and seas.

The water company has also been recently criticised after donating  £235,000 to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust after it dumped raw sewage illegally during dry weather. Policy and research manager at environment group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), Henry Swithinbank, said the “illegal discharging should have never happened in the first place.”

Mr Barrow said the latest video being withdrawn “is another example of a company that is failing on many levels”.

He questioned what the total cost of this video is “which now has been removed - something I’m paying for”.

The environmental campaigner and former Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey said the advert shows the “laissez-faire” attitude of water companies.

He told BBC Breakfast: “It underlines the most serious point, once we get past the mild amusement of it all, and that is this laissez-faire, almost casual, indifference that water companies like Yorkshire Water use and show towards their customers.

“I personally think it was the most ridiculous thing for them to do and it calls into question, in my mind, who within the company actually approved it.”

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “We recently shared a short teaser video for our new ‘word of mouth’ social media campaign to promote water saving. Unfortunately, it was shared before we’d had a chance to do our normal checks on it and the stock footage that had been used didn’t capture the spirit of Yorkshire.

“Once we were aware of the mistake we immediately took the video down. The ‘word of mouth’ video series all contain Yorkshire residents talking about their water saving tips, and footage of our wonderful county.”

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