ASA Rulings Recap December 2021
This month, the ASA have NOT upheld a number of rulings. Below Paralegal Emily Vickers takes a look into why the ASA concluded that these rulings weren’t misleading.
The ad appeared in the Guardian in June last year and showed a Land Rover Defender being driven around an untarmacked road through a forest with the headline “Life is so much better without restrictions”. This was then followed by “Book your extended test drive” and “Understandably, there are still restrictions as life slowly gets back to normal. Not so with the Defender, the 4WD vehicle with a capacity to go almost anywhere and do almost anything. If you take one for an extended test drive … a whole new world of freedom awaits”
Photograph: Rapid Transition Alliance
The ASA received 96 complaints, including from Adfree Cities, Badvertising and New Weather Institute who made a number of challenges. Firstly that “Life is so much better without restrictions” was misleading as they believed that it implied the vehicle depicted was above restrictions or rules, including those aimed at preventing climate change. The second challenge was that the ad was socially irresponsible as it implied that the vehicle depicted could be driven in forests or similar ecologically sensitive environments which could encourage or condone behaviour that was detrimental to the environment.
Jaguar Land Rover believed that the average consumer would not infer that the vehicle was above rules aimed at preventing climate change or ecological damage and was about the challenges of Covid-19 and restrictions, with the Guardian confirming this point of view. Jaguar Land Rover also said that they did not use ecologically sensitive areas when making their ads and there was no implication that their cars should be driven in such places, the Guardian also agreed with this.
NOT UPHELD – The ASA felt that consumers were unlikely to interpret the claim in a literal way, ie the same way as the complainants, and in fact they would interpret it in the way suggested by the advertiser.
On the second challenge, the ASA acknowledged that vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover were popular with all types of vehicle owners, urban and rural, and were designed to be capable of tackling rugged terrain environments, such as off-road driving by farmers. They also acknowledged that in some forests and National Parks it is illegal to drive on some forms of trackways and considered that advertisers should take care when depicting vehicles in those particular scenarios. However, they also noted that untarmacked roads could be encountered in many rural areas and mud splatters were not necessarily indicative of irresponsible use and concluded that the vehicle depicted in the ad was not being used irresponsibly.
CAP Code – 1.3 – social responsibility
Lessons to be learnt:
Whilst this advert was not upheld, a quote by Adfree Cities said that “The ASA council has made an overly narrow assessment of this Land Rover advert and failed to see it in a wider picture of a worsening climate crisis, rising urban ownership of SUV’s and lethal increases in air pollution.” Advertisers must be wary of the challenges they face from environmental activists ensuring that they carefully plan out their ads.
Holiday listings appearing on Jet2holidays website seen in June last year stated “Sol Katmandu Park and Resort”, following a search for a holiday for two adults and three children (aged eight, nine and ten) for seven nights, stated “Holiday price from £3,140” and “Price per person £628”. Towards the bottom of the page the listing stated “Child age Up to 11 years”.
Another holiday listing stated “Bahia Principe Fantasia Tenerife”, following a search for a holiday for two adults and three children (aged seven, twelve and thirteen) for seven nights, was £3,264 and the “Price per person” as £816. Towards the bottom of the page the listing stated “Child age Up to 17 years” with further listings of the same holiday with different numbers of adults and children resulting in different costs.The Complaint:
The complainant understood the cost of the holiday for children under the stated ‘child age’ in each ad varied according to their age, challenged whether the claim ‘child age up to 11 years’ in the ads were misleading.
Jet2Holidays Ltd responded that the prices in all four examples were ‘from’ prices and were indicative of what a consumer was likely to obtain once they had input their details, including number of travellers, their ages and dates.
They also stated that they used the phrase “Child age” to clarify what age constituted a child for the purposes of each hotel, but they did not indicate that all child places would have the same cost.
Jet2Holidays also stated that they had monitored competitor websites and that other travel companies used the same method to present prices.
NOT UPHELD – the ASA considered that consumers would understand from all the ads that if they booked the listed holiday using the combination of travellers and ages that they had entered, they would be able to purchase a holiday for the ‘from’ price. The AS considered that the ‘child age’ to mean the age at which people going on the holiday were considered children by the resort. They considered that consumers would expect that, where resorts differentiated between child and adult prices, that the children would be likely to be cheaper. The ASA concluded that the ads were not misleading.
3.1 and 3.3 – misleading advertising, 3.10 – qualification, 3.17 – prices.
Lessons to be learnt:
Again the ASA concluded that the ad was not misleading, it is important to note that whilst Jet 2 omitted information, the ASA considered that the omission wasn’t misleading as the the price that was generated was for the individual who was making the booking based on the information that they had input and was therefore accurate for their purposes.
On www.cazoo.co.uk the menu heading ‘find a car’ a link stated ‘new cars for subscription’. A web page with the heading ‘new cars available for subscription’ included text which stated ‘with cazoo, you can subscribe to a new car and your insurance, maintenance, servicing and tax is all included for on monthly payment. All you need to do is add fuel” and a link labelled “Search new cars”. A search result of cars could be filtered by “New cars” and “Used cars”, and when filtered by “New cars”, each car listing featured a label which stated “New car – subscription only”.
The Scottish Motor Trade Association, which believed pre-registered cars were described as ‘new’ challenged whether the claims that cars were ‘new’ were misleading.
Cazoo said their subscription service was a regulated consumer hire business where the consumer hired a car from Cazoo for an agreed period. They said none of the cars available to hire through their subscription service were available to buy on the Cazoo website.
Cazoo said that if consumers purchased a pre-registered car, the consumer’s name would be second on the registration document (which would have a detrimental effect on the car’s asset value) and there were circumstances in which additional products like warranty, insurance and breakdown cover would be affected.
Cazoo said pre-registration was also a legal necessity for the Cazoo subscription service.
NOT UPHELD – the ASA considered that consumers would understand that where cars were listed or described in the ad as ‘new’, they would have minimal mileage and no previous owner.
The ASA understood that cars advertised as “new” on the Cazoo website were only available as part of a subscription service, where consumers could pay a monthly subscription to use a Cazoo car for a fixed time. The ASA understood those cars were not available to purchase through the ad and we considered that where the ad referred to “new” cars, it was clear that those vehicles were available through Cazoo’s subscription service. The ASA understood such cars had minimal mileage and, in the vast majority of cases, had not been used before by a previous customer.
Therefore, although we understood new subscription cars were pre-registered, because ownership was not transferred to the consumer, and consumers would not expect it to be, we considered that information would not be material in those circumstances. We concluded that the ad’s description of pre-registered cars as “new” was not misleading.
3.1 and 3.3 – misleading advertising, 3.4.1 – misleading advertising.
Lessons to be learnt:
Again this ruling was not upheld and highlights the processes that the ASA go through in order to come to a decision.