Posts Tagged ‘asa’
On the final day of what has been a pretty awful year for Tesco, perhaps a small victory over Aldi might go some way towards a better 2015. Tesco have successfully appealed to the ASA that Aldi’s “Swap and Save” adverts, showing how much consumers can save by switching to Aldi were actually misleading. However, the ASA still reckons that Aldi is cheaper overall…
This is actually the second time Aldi has run the campaign, and the second time they have got in trouble over it. Now, after an investigation, the ASA agreed Aldi offered savings, but it banned the adverts on the grounds that they exaggerated how many people had taken part in the challenge, and questions over the shopping basket data used.
Tesco complained that the comparison was misleading because it believed the eight-week comparison period was out of date and invalid for a price sensitive market. They also complained that weekly shops were not compared on a like-for-like basis- with some ‘high ticket’ or non-weekly items excluded on a sometimes arbitrary basis, and that explanatory information in the adverts was not prominent enough.
However, Tesco’s main gripe was that the adverts stated 84 out of 98 people saved, and that the challenge upon which the advert was based involved an eight week challenge-four weeks’ shopping at a competitor and then four weeks shopping at Aldi. However, when looking into the background data published by Aldi, Tesco discovered that only four of the 98 individuals had undertaken the eight-week challenge and the remaining 94 had undertaken the challenge over two weeks.
Aldi had tried to address some of the concerns raised by Tesco, and had tested to see whether prices had materially moved since the challenge was undertaken (December 2013) and the advert showing in April 2014. They hadn’t. The inconsistency with the number of people taking the trial had come about after Clearcast, the advertising clearance agency, had advised Aldi they needed more data to substantiate their claims. Consequently, Aldi had rerun the trial with more people over two weeks to add to the original eight-week trial data.
To resolve the issue, the ASA did its own calculations, taking into account items it believed should have been included and excluded, and allowing for inconsistencies and inaccuracies in Aldi’s interpretation of the data. The ASA figures still showed that savings in the original shops ranged from 22% to 33%. The savings for a shorter ‘revalidation’ trial were even better, ranging from 25% to 38%.
The ASA concluded that “we considered those amounts represented significant savings at the time of both the original shops and the revalidation shop, and therefore that the overall message of the Swap & Save campaign, that consumers could save money by shopping at Aldi, was not misleading to consumers.”
However, “ because we considered the way in which the comparison was presented in the ads implied more people had participated in the eight-week challenge than was the case, we concluded the ads were in breach of the Codes.”
So it’s a bit of a hollow victory for Tesco. Yes the ads were misleading, but not on the actual main thrust of the ad. That it is actually cheaper to shop at Aldi. Happy New Year Tesco.
Payday lenders never learn. The latest culprit to be smacked on the wrist by the ASA is that stalwart of many a fine High Street, Cash Converters who, in addition to offering buy back and pawnbroking services, also offer payday and personal loans.
The problem is, as ever, that the advertising used by this type of company is not ‘responsible’ and encourages people (especially the people who can least afford it) to get into debt for things other than necessities.
The latest ASA ruling concerns a particular direct mailing ad that was sent out in the summer encouraging people to raise a “bit of extra money” in order to pay for “summer holidays”, a “new BBQ” and a “Kiss me Quick hat for the beach”. All these things are lovely things to have, but perhaps not worth getting yourself into sky-high APR loan agreements for.
The advertisement was challenged on the grounds that it was “irresponsible” and “encouraged frivolous spending.”
Cash Converters claimed the ad was not at all irresponsible, pointing the ASA to their strongly worded risk warning at the bottom of the ad- “Warning: Late payment can cause serious money problems.” They also claimed that the Kiss me Quick hat reference (not even they could find anything to say that would not constitute frivolous spending) was intended to be understood as a purchase that could be made from buyback cash (when you sell DVDs or games, for example, to the shop for a fraction of their cost), rather than something for which consumers should take out a loan.
Buybacks are not subject to the consumer credit regime, and the more stringent rules. They also stressed they would not lend money to people who could not afford it, a claim disputed by the fact that their latest published accounts show a massive increase in provision for bad debts (i.e. people who actually don’t repay their loan) up from £2.5m to £10.2m
In any case, the ASA chucked out Cash Converters claims, deciding that summer holidays, entertaining the children, buying a new barbeque and a “Kiss Me Quick” hat for the beach were all purchases that were “unlikely to be considered essential purchases and that the references to them suggested that taking out a loan or other type of cash advance for them was something that could be approached lightly.” They found that the ad therefore encouraged frivolous spending and was categorically irresponsible. The ASA also told Cash Converters to “ensure that their future advertising was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.”
Well, we can all hope can’t we…
An advert for that Toyota Yaris Hybrid has been banned.
A whopping 74 viewers were so enraged by the advert, seemingly encouraging dangerous driving, that they felt moved to register a moan about it.
Created by Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad featured various drivers and passengers enjoying various tunes that were transmitted to their GPS, the edited version of the UK advert focussed on Bruno Mars’ song ‘Locked Out of Heaven’. If the were really driving dangerously, they’d surely be thrown into heaven?
Perhaps we could address some priorities here and suggest the complainants are whinging about the wrong element of the ad, and should focus their ire on Mr Mars.
Toyota defended the ad and told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the car adhered to the speed limit and there were no shots of it travelling fast, competitively or in a daring manner.
They said they tried to portray that both the driver and passengers in the car were having a good time whilst driving, as it wanted to “dispel the myth that drivers cannot have fun whilst driving safely”.
They also denied that the female driver had her eyes closed at any point, which was another point singled out as a complaint. Again, priorities people.
ITV, which broadcast the TV version of the advert, said no viewers had complained to its Viewer Services, and YouTube, which ran the ad online, agreed.
The ASA said that singing along with Bruno Mars is fine (sheesh) but it was concerned that viewers would believe that the closed eyed lady wasn’t paying attention to the onslaught of the road.
The ads must not appear again in their current form and Toyota was told to ensure its ads do not depict dangerous driving in future.
That’s them told.
Things have moved on a bit since the days of snake oil. After all, we now have the ASA to look after us. And that is what the ASA have done today, stepping in to stop ‘weight loss’ clothes from being marketed as such without sufficient evidence to support their claims.
Clothing manufacturer Zaggora, whose clothes promise to help you “slim in style”, have been rapped by the regulator as they have no actual proof that the exercise get up they are flogging burns any more calories than someone wearing any other type of clothing.
Alongside claiming discounts of up to 70% which could not be substantiated (as the items in question have apparently been on sale permanently since 2013), the ASA took issue with the claims made in a number of Zaggora adverts that their clothing could burn more calories, thereby helping with weight loss. When pressed, Zaggora presented findings of a study comparing the calories burned both wearing Zaggora clothing and not wearing it.
However, the ASA were not so easily fobbed off, and felt that Zaggora’s study of nine, slim and fit young women was not statistically significant, nor representative, nor appropriate for the intended target market. The ASA stopped short of suggesting Zaggora had simply made up the results, but did point out that the study had not been ‘peer-reviewed’ and questioned the methodology and research controls used.
Overall the ASA “considered that the claims in the ads such as, “burn more”, “Weight Loss Hotpants”, “Slim in style”, “hotpants that burn calories for you”, “burn more fat”, and “burn more calories”, were likely to be interpreted by consumers as sustained weight loss claims, and would therefore need to be substantiated by evidence showing an effect over time,” before finding that the adverts were therefore misleading owing to the “issues” with the evidence.
However, the ASA ruling may yet prove to be snake oil itself. Despite the ruling published today, and an edict that Zaggora must not make similarly unsubstantiated claims in future, Zaggora’s email marketing sent out this very afternoon includes the words “trim your waist” and how their ‘technology’ “helps you burn more calories”. It could be that, since the ruling, Zaggora has, in fact, got robust, defensible evidence of their weight loss claims, or it could be that Zaggora are blatantly flaunting the ASA’s direct order.
Unfortunately, if this is the case, it seems all the ASA can do is publish Zaggora’s name on a list of persistent offenders, leaving them free to claim all sorts to unsuspecting podgy folks who don’t necessarily read the ASA website as a matter of course. Unless they read marvellous sites like Bitterwallet instead…
The sites have been posing as government channels for health insurance cards, passports and birth certificates, leaving consumers baffled, poor and riotous.
The websites – europeanhealthcard.org.uk, uk-officialservices.co.uk and ukpassportoffices.co.uk – duped users into thinking they were official providers of services they were offering, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.
It also ruled that the websites must not appear again and any future versions must feature disclaimers that say “we’re not real”.
Although, putting a thing on a site saying it’s a fake, sort of defeats the purpose of being a moody front to steal your life.
The ASA said it received large numbers of consumer complaints about websites that offered access to online government services, but which were not official channels and typically charged a premium.
The ASA said the europeanhealthcard.org.uk website charged for an application verification service, while the EHIC was available for free when applied for via the official gov.uk website.
Only stick to the proper gov channels, and if in doubt, call ‘em up and waiting 45 minutes to get through to someone.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) does a sterling job protecting us consumers from those scurrilous types who would seek to mislead us with not-quite-kosher adverts. But it seems their job is even harder than you would have thought- when they have to uphold complaints against consumer champions and their adverts…
The millionaire Martin Lewis’ Moneysavingexpert.com is the latest organisation who has had a complaint (partially) upheld against them. The ASA found that the adverts, for telecoms products, were misleading and omitted relevant information that would have helped the consumer make an informed decision. Still, on the bright side, the affiliate links worked just fine.
Moneysavingexpert was advertising a Talk Talk telephone package described as “B’band & phone equiv £15.25/mth + £75 Love2Shop (if line rent paid upfront)”, and compared it with other telecommunications providers’ packages. The ASA was asked to investigate whether the advert was misleading because it would suggest to consumers that the new package included calls (it did not) and that there was a restriction on the amount of unbilled calls to a maximum of £20 that was not mentioned anywhere, nor were any details of call charges.
The ASA considered the overall impression created by the reference to “phone” in the headline, reinforced by the claims that followed and the image of a landline phone, was that the package comprised broadband and inclusive phone calls in the advertised price. Because phone calls were not included in the stated price and that was not made sufficiently clear, they concluded the claim was misleading and that the advert broke four regulations of the applicable CAP code.
The ASA also felt that considered consumers “would not expect to be restricted in the amount of calls they could make or that they would need to make a payment prior to the end of the billing period to have that restriction lifted.” As a result, they felt that the £20 “unbilled call limit” was a “significant condition” which should have been included in the ad, along with a reference that such calls would be charged at TalkTalk’s standard rates.
Two other complaints about the advert were not upheld by the ASA.
So next time you read a Moneysavingexpert email, purportedly issued to save you money, make sure you’re getting the full facts before you sign up for that super deal…
The folks at TNT Post have been doing adverts, but alas, they’ve been chatting a load of BS. They compared themselves to the Royal Mail and implied that they offer the same service and similar prices… when they don’t.
The TNT leaflet showed a picture of a bloke in a TNT uniform and said: “What does my postie look like? Like this – in a smart uniform which our posties wear at all times on duty. Like Royal Mail, all are CRB-checked and fully trained in how to keep mail safe and secure.”
“We operate under exactly the same rules and regs as Royal Mail – authorised by the government to carry mail and watched over by Ofcom.”
However, they don’t and the ad got banned by the ASA.
Royal Mail, naturally, were the ones to flag this up, saying that the ad was misleading because TNT aren’t required to deliver to every address in the UK on a next-day basis like they are and, not only that, it isn’t fair that TNT implied that the service they provided was better than Royal Mail’s.
TNT said that the whole thing was designed to make consumers feel safe and secure, rather than make Royal Mail cry.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad suggested that TNT was subject to the same service levels as Royal Mail in all areas, and that’s not the case.
ASA said the reference to mail being “delivered … all over the UK” was misleading and that information in the advert didn’t allow readers to identify for themselves how TNT was better than the Royal Mail in respect of prices and such.
ASA ruled that the ads mustn’t appear again: “We told TNT Post UK to ensure future ads did not suggest that they were subject to the same service levels as Royal Mail, that they delivered mail themselves to all parts of the UK or that their prices were competitive in relation to those offered by Royal Mail unless they could substantiate that that was the case.”
We all know advertising is supposed to make you want to buy stuff, but we have a reasonable expectation that the adverts we are subjected to are not a bunch of outright lies. That’s what the Advertising Standards Agency is there for,right?
However, just because businesses can’t lie, doesn’t mean they aren’t found guilty of stretching the truth a little bit. Strictly speaking, you might consider it lying but the ASA calls it ‘misleading’. A new ruling from the ASA has just banned a Virgin Media advert claiming that Sky customers could save over £400 a year by switching, when chances are, they actually couldn’t.
A regional press ad for Virgin Media Ltd compared Sky’s ‘The Family Bundle’ with Virgin Media’s ‘Premiere Collection’. The ‘receipts’ shown in the advert listed the features and monthly total price of the respective packages. Sky’s Family Bundle was priced at £103.65 and Virgin Media’s Premier Collection at £67.99. The advert stated an “Annual saving with Virgin Media £427.92″.
The problem was not, actually, with the facts- while Virgin had handily included the cost of BT Sport, which is actually paid to BT rather than Sky- Virgin maintained that 100% of Sky customers who took the exact combination of services set out would achieve the claimed saving. Nor was this disputed by the ASA. Virgin also claimed that the trifling detail of the exact amount of consumers holding this particular combination of services did not affect the comparison being made or a consumer’s understanding of the price saving.
However, on this point the ASA disagreed, given that fewer than 0.1% of Sky customers did have those services, and could therefore possibly save over £400. The ASA noted that the ad was phrased conditionally, and that Virgin Media did not claim that all customers would save over £400, however the ASA felt that “it was necessary for a reasonable proportion of consumers to achieve the claimed saving,” adding that “using the comparison in this example, only a relatively small proportion of Sky customers would save to the degree claimed. “
As a result that advert was banned on the grounds of misleading by exaggeration. Moral of the story- don’t believe everything you read in the papers and do your own research when comparing costs of broadband and television services.
Have you seen the Morrisons TV commercial which shows a kid saying she’s done well in school and then her mum makes her a burger and she knocks the salad off? That’s what kids do right? Oh, children! WHAT ARE THEY LIKE?!
Of course, the advert wasn’t particularly good, but it was completely harmless right? WRONG. The Advertising Standards Authority have banned it because they think it promotes bad eating habits to children.
Watch the advert below. If you have any children in the vicinity, be sure to avert their eyes or they’ll start mainlining bricks of lard.
The Advertising Standards Authority received 11 complaints (presumably from other advertising agencies or people who are so health conscious that they’re borderline pervy) and the ASA upheld the gripes, saying that the girl in the ad was so keen to eat the burger on its own that she immediately removed the salad. The ASA added that the she discarded the salad in a “careless manner”, suggesting she had no intention of eating it later.
“Because we considered the ad placed an emphasis on the burger being the preferable option to the salad, we concluded it condoned poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle, especially in children, and that it disparaged good dietary practice,” ruled the ASA. “The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.”
Jesus H. Christ.
But hotheaded tea drinking chimps everywhere are now going to have to concede that PG Tips pyramid bags DO let out more flavour than Tetley’s round ones.
Tetley were furious when Johnny Vegas and that godforsaken monkey appeared to trash their round teabags in a recent advert. They sit at the kitchen table and do a test to see which teabags are best, with Monkey concluding that:
‘PG Tips uses pyramid bags, so if we test one against a regular tea bag … you’ll see the tea has got more room to move, freeing the great fresh taste for a perfect cuppa.’
Tetley said that although they weren’t mentioned in the ad, it was obvious that as they are purveyors of round teabags, they were being targeted and ‘denigrated’ by a knitted primate.
BUT the Advertising Standards Authority upheld PG Tips claims, and enraged the Tetley teafolk by saying that pyramid bags WERE better, and that their round ones basically suck.
‘Unilever provided test results which showed that the infusion of tea, at 40 seconds and two minutes into brewing, was greater when using a pyramid teabag than when using a round teabag. We therefore concluded that the ad did not exaggerate the capability and performance of the advertised product and was not misleading.’
A few people grassed TalkTalk up to the ASA about their three ad-campaigns were a load of cobblers, especially the claim that they were offering “the UK’s lowest priced, totally unlimited broadband”.
One of the grasses was BT and the ASA ruled in their favour, saying that Talktalk failed to substantiate their claims and that the ISP’s price comparisons also showed inaccuracies, which altogether, meant that TalkTalk had “misled customers”.
The ruling said (and you can read it here): “Most consumers would believe that, at the time the ad appeared, TalkTalk offered the cheapest unlimited broadband package in Britain, in comparison to both their competitors’ standard and promotional prices.
“Because that was not the case, we concluded that the claim was misleading.”
A TalkTalk spokesmachine said in a statement: “We’re committed to making Britain better off and consistently offer our customers Britain’s best prices for TV, broadband, mobile and home phone. As such, TalkTalk homes make significant savings in comparison to our competitors.”
“We note the ASA’s comments about ensuring comparison text is prominent and look forward to continuing to provide Britain’s lowest prices.”
Then, for good measure, supergrass BT got slapped by the ASA too, for a mailout that stated, “SKY TO SWITCH OFF O2 BROADBAND BY APRIL 2014″ on the envelope. They too, were being misleading.
Savvy web users might be able to spot a rubbish fake crown logo or a web address called ‘giveusyourdetails.gov.passport.’ But others are regularly being led down the garden path, according to research by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ASA is so concerned about this that it’s launching a new awareness campaign, which will lead people to official government web pages and away from the dodgy ones.
It’s also considering tougher enforcement of fake sites and advertisers, pledging to work with Google and Bing to weed out the infiltrators.
Although 8 out of 10 people surveyed could spot the official passport application site, some of the other sites posing as government sites are quite convincing. Only half guessed that a site replacing Births, Deaths and Marriage certificates was actually a commercial website.
‘We’re focused on tackling any sites that continue to mislead, in support of other enforcement activity.’ Said Miles Lockwood from the ASA. ‘We’re also working with search engines and government to ensure the public are protected. In the meantime, always start at gov.uk to access a government service.’
The four video ads on Jaguar’s website showed a car razzing through a tunnel and crossing over the single white lines in the middle of a road, before driving across a mountain road at night. That’s not advisable in terms of the Highway Code, but c’mon! It is meant to be fantasy, right?
Another clip showed a car driving at high speed, while voice-overs said: “The adaptive dynamics technology reacts 20 times faster than the human eye. It delivers a smooth drive by continuously analysing speed, steering and body movement of the car 500 times a second, giving every journey an instinctive, stable and agile ride.”
The adverts ended with the Jaguar logo alongside text reading: “Jaguar. How alive are you?” to the sound of an engine being revved to oblivion.
One stupid viewer complained that the ads were irresponsible because they “glorified speed and encouraged dangerous driving”.
Just like Shreddies adverts encourage Nestle to force grandmothers to work in cereal knitting sweatshops when they should be enjoying their retirement.
Jaguar said that their videos were shot on the open highway in Switzerland on closed sections of road on the Susten Pass and the Grimsel Pass. Their caption didn’t make this clear, but really, the fact it was an advert should’ve been clue enough.
The company said the adverts’ were there to emphasise the technical features and abilities of the cars and the clips where we saw cars crossing lanes were there to highlight the lightweight construction for cornering stability and safety. They added that these adverts “at no time demonstrated any dangerous driving”, and there was no indication that speed limits were being broken.
The ASA disagreed, saying that the impression they got was Jaguar were focusing on speed and acceleration, rather than safety because of all the high tempo music and revving engines. They also noted that the cars were driving in a manner that would be “irresponsible and illegal” on a public road in the UK.
The ASA said: “We considered that the cars were being handled in a dangerous manner that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly. Because we considered that speed was the main message of the ads and the ads portrayed the cars being driven in a dangerous manner, we concluded the ads were irresponsible and condoned dangerous driving.”
They ruled that Jaguar mustn’t show these ads again and that they shouldn’t “portray speed as the focus of an ad in future… and not to portray driving behaviour that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly in future”.
Jesus Christ Almighty.
There could be more bad news for the Government’s blighted Green Deal scheme. A new ruling by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) could mean that Green Deal operators face having to hand back tens of thousands of pounds to consumers after the Green Deal Finance Company was found to have mis-sold the cash-saving benefits of the scheme in their advertising literature.
The ASA ruled on three separate issues- marketing claims that the Green Deal payment plans are the cheapest on the market, assurances that the so-called Golden Rule would deliver “peace of mind” with financial savings that were equal to or greater than the costs attached to the energy bill and the failure to publish details of hidden charges, including arrangement and assessment fees, as well as exit penalties.
While the ASA ruling itself does not affect Green Deals already done- it merely requires the offending advertisements be removed or revised- consumer lawyers are warning that the ruling could set a precedent for disgruntled consumers to seek redress for Green Deal mis-selling.
Consumer law solicitor Kerry Gwyther, a partner at leading national law firm TLT, explained that while the ASA ruling does not necessarily mean potential Green Deal mis-selling cases are in the bag, it is often a good starting point for claims of misrepresentation.
“The ASA normally use Trading Standards’ levels of determining misleading claims and its rulings do go a long way in helping to present a successful case. While there is no automatic right of action, the ASA ruling very often means the advertising is in breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations that can lead to further action being taken,” he explained.
“A consumer is entitled to take proceedings using Common Law and some parts of the Consumer Protection legislation if, as a result of this ruling, they feel they have been misled into signing up for the Green Deal. If a consumer has been induced to enter into an agreement by misleading claims, a court may well find in the consumer’s favour and they may well be able to walk away from the contract without further payments or seek damages for any losses suffered” he added, sagely.
Advertising law specialist Mike Northern agreed , commenting that consumers would now be able to use the ASA ruling in any future court action, suggesting that “a judge would be influenced to find in favour of an application supported by an ASA adjudication like this.”
The complaint was brought by South East-based Crystal Home Improvements, who were very concerned that consumers were being treated unfairly, and not at all concerned that Green Deal alternatives might be cutting into their profits.
A spokesman for the company told ClickGreen: “We are happy with the ASA decision that confirmed our suspicion that the Green Deal was being mis-sold to consumers. This is not the first time we have successfully challenged the Green Deal and we will continue to highlight the many disadvantages of this poorly run scheme.”
However, before getting too excited, it is important to note that the Green Deal Finance Company itself is a business to business organisation, and the ASA noted that leaflet ruled as misleading was probably not viewed by a vast number of people. Any claims of mis-selling would have to be made as a result of being fraudulently enticed by advertising using similar claims to those outlawed in this ruling.
EE proclaimed that they were “Britain’s most reliable broadband for staying connected”, and then the Advertising Standards Authority politely informed them that they weren’t, smacking their legs in the process.
The company based their claim on Ofcom broadband tests, which showed that EE achieved the lowest rate of packet loss, jitter and latency. “As those measures were mostly concerned with real-time activities such as VoIP and video calling, EE thought a claim which focused on reliability as it related to those activities was appropriate,” the ASA stated in its adjudication.
However, grassing them up were BT who challenged the claims, saying that EE’s scores in each of those categories were not better than theirs to a “statistically significant degree” and failed to take the wireless router performance into account.
ASA sided with class swot, BT, adding that Ofcom’s report “clearly stated that those differences were not statistically significant when compared to BT” and that EE “had not provided any evidence to demonstrate superior wireless router performance in relation to the maintenance of a connection”.
EE can’t run their adverts in the current form from now on.
However, EE did manage to flick the Vs behind teacher’s back toward after BT complained that EE’s claims to have Britain’s first plug-and-play fibre broadband router were wrong.
The ASA found that EE’s Bright Box beat BT’s Home Hub 5, to which BT screamed “OH GOD IT IS SO UNFAIR!”