ASA Rulings Recap March 2021
This month the ASA rulings focused heavily on influencer marketing and the use of filters.
TV ad offered free Camden Hells Lager
to viewers that scanned a QR code appearing in the ad.
The ASA received 2 complaints: Whether the add appealed to under 18’s due to the use of cartoon characters and whether the promotion was misleading because after scanning the code, consumers were placed in a virtual queue for over an hour before being told the promotion had ended due to high demand.
Participants had to scan the QR code at the end of the ad in order to have a chance to win. Camden Town Brewery said it was necessary to implement a virtual queue to avoid crashing the servers on their website and to ensure that all winners were able to claim their prize. Camden Town Brewery said that they had encountered a technical problem which caused the wait time in the queue to be extended on three of the dates the ad had been run. The queue was closed as soon as all prizes had been won and all participants still in the queue at that point were offered a 20% discount. Camden Town claimed that both the ad and updates to participants during the virtual queue made clear that entrants would be in with a chance to win free beer only if they were lucky – by using the message: “Pay attention, as if you win beer, you’ll only have 10 minutes to click through to claim your prize, or it will be reallocated to someone else.”
UPHELD – Because the ad presented a giveaway of free items in an unclear way that confused it with a prize draw, and because Camden Town Brewery had not made a reasonable estimate of demand or made sufficiently clear the limited availability of free beer, the ASA considered that the ad was misleading.
CAP Code – 3.1, 3.2 – Misleading Advertising
Lessons to be learnt:
Promoters must always ensure that the nature of their promotions are made clear to the consumer. Reasonable estimates of demand should be made by a brand, and where there is limited availability, this must be clearly communicated to the consumer.
A paid-for Instagram post and website for a promotion by Team Hard Racing Ltd where one could win a championship winning British touring car.
The complainant challenged whether the promotion in the ads had been administered fairly because entry to the paid for route was unlimited but entry to the free route was limited to only one; and whether the promotion breached the Code because the closing date could be extended by up to four times.
Team Hard Racing Ltd stated that the ad did not make any reference to a purchase price or the free entry option. All of the relevant information was enclosed on the website once prospective participants clicked the link in the ad. They argued that many of their competitions involved human interaction and thus they felt that it was important to be able to extend promotions in case they had to delay due to COVID-19 restrictions.
UPHELD – In line with the CAP Code the ASA felt that the free entry route should be equitable and not discriminatory against those that had used it. Because participants could pay to enter the promotion as many times as they wanted whereas those who had entered through the free route were limited to one entry, the ASA concluded that the promotion had NOT been conducted in an equitable manner and thus breached the CAP Code. Furthermore, whilst the ASA acknowledged that restrictions due to COVID-19 created limitations and uncertainties, they did not consider that this exempted Team Hard Racing from doing everything they could to honour the original closing date or delaying the award of the prize or offering a reasonable substitute. Because the closing date was likely to change due to factors that were not unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter, the ASA held that the ad was in breach of the Code.
3.1 – Misleading advertising and 3.11 – Exaggeration.
Lessons to be learnt:
Brands who offer both a No Purchase Necessary route as well as a paid entry route, must ensure that both methods have equal opportunities to enter to ensure the promotion is conducted in a fair and equitable manner. The brand must also do everything within their power to honour the original closing date of a promotion and where this is not possible offer suitable alternatives.
A TV ad for Currys stated ‘Get your LG OLED TV for half price’ whilst the website stated ‘Yesss! LG OLED TV for half price!’
A total of 11 complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading as they believed the ad suggested TVs were being sold at half price, rather than through a promotion.
Currys argued the voiceover in the TV ad which mentioned a 1 in 20 chance to win half your money back & short TCs on both the ad & website made it clear to consumers this was a promotion rather than a sale. They also stated the phrase ‘Get your’ vs ‘get a’ was sufficient to imply that a consumer had already purchased a TV, and then had the chance to win half their money back. Clearcast agreed.
UPHELD – The ASA considered the word ‘get’ in the voiceover claim of ‘get your TV for half price’ created a sense of certainty & suggested viewers could purchase the product for half price. They said the onscreen text further cemented this impression on the consumer. In regard to the voiceover, they stated the use of the word ‘with’ in the following sentence – with a one-in-twenty chance to get your money back with Currys PC World – created an ‘ambiguous impression,’ as it could be interpreted by viewers as either explaining how to obtain the product for half price, or that the money back offer was a completely separate promotion alongside the half-price deal. They ‘noted the presence’ of the summary terms, but as seen previously they said they were not sufficient to clarify the overall nature of offer to viewers.
3.1 & 3.2 – Misleading advertising and 3.10 – Qualification.
Lessons to be learnt:
Check your comms, ad copy and POS with marketing compliance experts such as the PromoVeritas Legal Team before you begin production!