Posts Tagged ‘asa’
It’s a bit like the perennial question of whether the tree falling over alone in the woods makes a noise– do the too-good-to-be-true sales offered by sofa retailers and double-glazing salesmen ever end? Well now the ASA has ruled against one such company to prevent them from advertising heavily discounted prices which are actually just the normal prices.
You’ve probably seem the Safestyle UK television adverts (and then wished you could scrub your ears and eyeballs), which normally involve a lot of screaming and unbelievable offers of free upstairs windows, or free windows at the front or BOGOF or something else that offers a prima facie discount of around 50% from the ‘normal’ price of their windows. The ASA, however, were responding to a complaint over advertisements offering “55% off” as a promotion. The complaint suggested, heaven forbid, that the 55% off was not, in fact, an offer, and the 55% off prices were available all the time, meaning that this constituted false advertising.
In response, HPAS (trading as Safestyle UK) affirmed that during the previous six months there had been 86 offer days, with a further 86 non-offer days. They said given the schedule, and similarly to other retailers that offered periodic sales, it was possible, if not likely, that consumers would see a number of different promotional Safestyle ads before either responding or making a purchase.
As part of the investigation, as is often the case, the ASA also spoke to Clearcast, to see what checks they had undertaken before allowing the ad to run.
Clearcast said they had also been suspicious of the 55% off claims taken care to discuss what was needed to support the pricing claims as “the prices must represent genuine discounts”. They had received ‘evidence’ from Safestyle in the form of a signed letter that affirmed the above and stated that “the products had been sold without discount for at least the previous 93 days at the time of clearance”, which is already not quite the same as the 86 days they claimed to the ASA. Safestyle, however, also informed Clearcast that because all items were made to measure, they “did not have price lists as such but that any full prices would be discounted by 55%.” Clearcast also trusted Safestyle as far as they could throw them, so further requested, and received, some kind of legal confirmation “that the ad was accurate and not misleading.”
Nevertheless, the ASA did their own digging and found that, far from the 86 or 93 days claimed by Safestyle, from the beginning of 2015 until the date of the complaint in early March, “there had been only one three-day period, in January, at which no promotional price was offered against Safestyle’s standard prices.” The ASA did concede that there was a longer non-promotional at the end of 2014, amounting to a massive 35 days, but during that preceding three month period, the products had been offered at either 55% off or on a buy-one-get-one free promotion for the majority of the time.
As a result, the ASA concluded that the ‘discounted’ price, and not the non-promotional price was the normal selling price and that therefore any offers claiming to offer 55% off were misleading and must not be used again. Consumers 1, dodgy double glazing salesmen 0
We’ve all seen THAT advert. Whether in person around London tube stations or as part of the social media backlash, who’d have thought a golden image of a young lady in full possession of a beach body would constitute such an offensive advert.
Or did it? Owing to the massive number of complaints lodged (a whopping 378), before the ASA even investigated the advert, Protein World were told not to show the ad again. Protein World have always been totally unapologetic about their advert, even baiting Twitter users, and while they couldn’t show the advert anymore, social media users gave them more media exposure than they could possibly have paid for.
Of course, the ad was taken down for causing widespread tutting, but the ASA did undertake a separate investigation to establish whether the ad was actually in breach of the advertising rules on harm, offence and social responsibility.
While all 378 complaints were not identical, the ASA collated issues into two threads, whether:
1. the ad implied that a body shape which differed from the ‘idealised’ one presented was not good enough or in some way inferior and was, therefore, offensive; and
2. the combination of an image of a very slim, toned body and the headline “ARE YOU BEACH BODY READY?” was socially irresponsible in the context of an ad for a slimming product.
Protein World said that the phrase “beach body” was commonly used and understood to mean looking at one’s best and that they did not believe that the ad implied everyone should look like the model or that the text and image were irresponsible.
And the ASA agreed. They felt that “‘beach body’ was a relatively well understood term that for some people had connotations of a toned, athletic physique” but also that some people would understand it to mean “feeling sufficiently comfortable and confident with one’s physical appearance to wear swimwear in a public environment.” While the ASA considered the advert might “prompt readers to think about whether they were in the shape they wanted to be for the summer” they found that the image did not imply that a different body shape to that shown was “not good enough or was inferior” and therefore that the ad and the image were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. Of course, the ad did cause serious or widespread offence, but the ASA ruling is that Protein World couldn’t have been expected to anticipate such a furore. The ASA also found that the ad was not ‘irresponsible’ under the CAP code as they “did not consider the image of the model would shame women who had different body shapes into believing they needed to take a slimming supplement to feel confident wearing swimwear in public.”
So there you are, outraged public, you are wrong.
The ASA has a tough job, investigating hundreds of complaints into adverts every year even if only one person has complained about an advert that no-one else saw. However, it seems it’s an even harder job these days to run a ‘fair’ promotion, even if the people making it unfair are the public themselves…
An ASA adjudication, published today, upheld a complaint against a promotion, jointly administered by Sony and Game stores, offered the first 100 entrants the opportunity to purchase a limited edition Playstation 4 games console (PS4), as well as giving five random entrants the opportunity to win the same console.
The promotion was a competition- a daily clue was published which described a specific character from PlayStation history. The clue also included a link to a ‘character image’ page, which contained over 300 different characters, and only selecting the correct character would give a link to a Game page with a submission form to enter the competition. Sony said the link to the Game page was updated approximately one minute before a clue was released to allow them to check that the link worked before the clue was released.
The problem was that people, being people, didn’t play fair. To start with, the link Sony posted was static, which meant that it could be copied and pasted on to a gaming forum site, for example, for anyone to click, not just those who had been bothered to work out the clue. Sony said their system functionality was not in place to allow for unique URLs, and they had “not foreseen” the issue of the submission form URL being shared. Sneaky sorts also devised clever little scripts that allowed them to access the Game page even before the Sony clue was published, effectively letting them jump straight to the front of the queue. Sony actually made 112 consoles available per day to try and compensate for this fact.
In addition, while Game laboriously checked names addresses and IP details for daily winners, they didn’t manage to check across the whole period of the promotion, meaning five people were able to purchase more than one discounted PS4, albeit on different days, which was in breach of the competitions own terms and conditions.
The ASA accepted that Sony and Game had tried to run the competition fairly, and noted they had time-stamping entries and only disqualified multiple or early entries, or those from outside the UK. However, the ASA found that, because of the actions of the naughty public, the promotion was not, in fact, run fairly and breached the CAP code on administration of promotions, as those who had entered fairly did not have an equal chance of actually winning.
There was a fair bit of hubbub surrounding Amazon’s Prime and how it changed from a free trial to a paid-for service.
The Advertising Standards Authority have banned one of Amazon’s adverts, which was a direct mailing advert, which offered a “free trial” of the Prime delivery service, saying that it misled consumers on the now infamous subscription fees.
So what’s the beef?
Well, the ASA’s ruling came about after their were complaints about a card that crowed about a “30-day free trial”, which wasn’t prominent or clear enough when pointing out that a paid subscription would kick-in automatically if the service wasn’t cancelled during the trial period.
In addition to that, the regulator noted that the ad for the instant video element of Prime also didn’t point out the cost of a subscription.
The letter itself said: “Dear [name], I’m sending you this letter because I want you to know that you are eligible for a free trial of Amazon Prime … Start your 30-day free trial today and watch as much as you want … That’s all there is to it …”
It did say; “Paid subscription starts automatically after free trial unless cancelled,” in the small print, and Amazon pointed out that the advert repeatedly said the “free” element was time-limited. The company also pointed out that in all occasions bar one, the word “free” was preceded by “30-day”.
The ASA weren’t having it and said: ”We did not consider that it was sufficient to include the information about the automatic paid subscription in the small print of the ad only and therefore did not consider that that information was sufficiently prominent to make clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to take advantage of the offer.”
“We concluded the ad was likely to mislead.”
The Advertising Standards Authority concluded that this particular advert for Amazon Prime was misleading and it mustn’t appear again in its current form.
The votes are in, the count has been checked and verified and today, the ASA has published the list of 2014′s top ten most complained about adverts. However, what marks 2014 apart as a groundbreaking year for advertising shock value is the news that the top three in this list are also the top three adverts based on number of complaints of all time. Well done advertisers.
So, without further pause for dramatic effect, the winners are:
#1 Paddy Power and THAT Oscar Pistorious ad.
Hardly likely to be a surprise, Paddy Power’s Oscar Pistorious ad was generally found to be in poor taste, drawing a record 5525 complaints to the ASA, which is more than three times the complaints levied against #2. While the ad, which offered a ‘money back if he walks’ guarantee for bets placed on the verdict of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial, was a clever pun , the ASA found that it caused serious offence by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability, and pulled the ad immediately. Paddy Power were also berated for bringing “advertising into disrepute.”
1,768 people complained about this ad (although more complaints are still coming in in 2015) which jovially replaced the word ‘booking’ for a profanity in a TV and cinema ad. While many claimed the ad was offensive and encouraged bad language amongst children, the ASA did not uphold the complaints, judging that it was a light hearted play on words that couldn’t be mistaken for an actual swear word.
In a characteristic show of common sense, the ASA also ruled that it was unlikely to encourage swearing amongst children as any children that did pick up on the joke were unlikely to have learned bad language through the ad itself.
#3 The Sun’s prize of a bra-less lady
Just pipped into third spot at 1,711 complaints was the Sun’s genius idea to offer a date with a page 3 model as a prize in a fantasy football competition.
Despite the likely numerous Sun readers rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of such a prize, the ASA decided that offering a date with a woman as a reward for success in the game was demeaning to women and objectified those offered as prizes. They took especial note of the wording “we might even let you pick which one, so feel free to start your research now …”, considering it “further enhanced the impression that the women were simply objects to be selected at the whim and enjoyment of the winner, and had no choice in the matter themselves.”
The ad was banned on the grounds that it was “sexist, offensive and socially irresponsible” and objectified women.
#4 Sainsbury’s Christmas advert
You’re surprised at this one aren’t you, with many people suggesting that Sainsbury’s actually managed to out-John Lewis in the schmaltzy Christmas advert stakes in 2014. However 823 complaints were lodged against this advert, mostly objecting to the use of an event from the First World War to advertise a supermarket. While acknowledging that some found the ad to be in poor taste, the ASA did not judge the ad to be offensive and in breach of the Code.
#5 Save the Children
This charity appeal advert showing a women giving birth to a baby with the help of a midwife spawned 614 complaints that the scenes were offensive, distressing and inappropriately scheduled. One wonders how such people thought they arrived into the world. However, the ASA showed them short shrift and did not uphold the complaints, saying the ad’s post 9 pm scheduling restriction appropriately reduced the risk of younger viewers seeing the ads and causing distress. Because adults should be able to cope with the facts of actual life.
#6 Waitrose Ltd
267 people had an issue with a TV ad that claimed ‘Everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose’ as some things, like cleaning, were outsourced, meaning the cleaners did not, in fact, own Waitrose. This one never went as far as getting a ruling though, Waitrose amended the ad once concerns were raised.
The ASA received 199 complaints that two VIP e-cigarette TV ads glamourised and promoted the use of tobacco products. The ASA did not uphold the complaints about glamourisation, but did consider the ads depicted the products being exhaled in a way that created a strong association with traditional tobacco smoking.
#8 www. uk-passport.net
The 188 complaints against this site formed part of a sector-wide investigation into copycat websites. The work included commissioning consumer research and taking action across the sector to remove misleading claims, imagery and emblems. It also involved supporting the Government awareness campaign #StartAtGOVUK, which warns those looking for official services to start at GOV.UK to avoid misleading websites.
#9 Flora Buttery
This animated TV and YouTube ad for Flora Buttery showed two children making breakfast in bed for their parents and walking in on their parents ‘wrestling’. The ASA received 183 complaints that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for children to see. While the ASA acknowledged that while the ad was suggestive, it did not contain any sexually graphic or distressing scenes, and so was unlikely to cause undue fear or distress to young viewers.
Another part of the ‘copycat website’ investigation, this site drew 177 complaints.
The ASA also said that the rise of social media, which has allowed members of the public to voice and co-ordinate their concerns about ads is the reason for the rise in complaints, leading to the top three most complained about ads ever all falling in 2014. Many of the complaints about the Paddy Power ad and the third most-complained about ad (The Sun’s ‘Win a Date with a Page 3 Model’) were coordinated via the online petition site, change.org. And while most of the ads that prompt high numbers of complaints do so on the grounds of Mary Whitehouse style offence, most of the hundreds of millions of ads that appear each year don’t raise concern. Where they do, it’s mostly in relation to misleading claims, which make up around 75% of all cases received by the ASA.
Guy Parker, ASA Chief Executive, said: “2014 was the year social media came into its own in making it easier than ever to lodge complaints en masse. While some ads will inevitably split opinion, as the diverse nature of complaints we received shows, last year underlined the importance of our work in cracking down on misleading ads, including copycat websites, that are simply unfair to consumers.”
If you aren’t a seven year old girl, or you don’t watch Saturday morning kids television, you might be forgiven for not having heard of Lelli Kelly shoes. For the uninitiated, if you imagine someone has ground up a unicorn in a blender, swallowed it, and then vomited the contents up onto a pair of trainers, you might get close to imagining what Lelli Kelly shoes look like. However, matters of taste aside, Lelli Kelly have recently been investigated by the ASA over an ad that was accused of being misleading.
In addition to rainbow diarrhoea shoes, Lelli Kelly also do a line in school shoes and boots, which are mostly patent leather but which can be jazzed up by the addition of straps and buckles and of sparkly jewels to the outside of the footwear. After all, a girl can never have too many jewels. Nevertheless, a lack of blanket glitter coverage was not the reason for the complaint to the ASA. A recent advertising campaign by Lelli Kelly was even offering miniature fashionistas the opportunity to get a free gift of a diamond bracelet that matched the diamonds on the boots. Amazing. Unfortunately, a number of viewers complained to the ASA as it transpired that the diamond bracelet on offer was not actually made of diamonds, but was cheaper plastic sparkly stuff, just like on the shoes. Which were not studded with real diamonds either, it turns out. There were also complaints that the advert “took advantage” of the “credulity” of children.
Now, whatever your opinion on Lelli Kelly shoes themselves, or their inhumane treatment of unicorns, you are probably feeling a modicum of sympathy for them for being rapped by the ASA for offering fake diamond bracelets, when anyone with half a brain would have known the bracelets were not made of real diamonds. However, your sympathies would be misplaced, as the ASA also believe that only a muppet would have thought you could get a ‘real’diamond bracelet freewith a pair of children’s shoes.
Of course, they didn’t put it quite like that. The ASA decision took into account the selling price of the shoes (between £49.90 and £74.90. Yes. For children’s shoes) and “considered that adults, who would make a decision on whether to purchase the product, would understand from those visuals, the reference to the studs and the fact they came free with a pair of children’s boots, that the bracelet did not include real diamonds.”
Hurrah for the ASA. However, there is a serious point, which is that the ASA has to investigate all complaints even if only made by one person (the Lelli Kelly complaint had six idiots)- regardless of whether said complainant is several sandwiches short of a picnic or not…
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.