UK: ASA Adjudications Snapshot - Summer 2012

Last Updated: 19 September 2012
Article by Susan Barty, Lucy Kilshaw, Stuart Helmer and Alex Bowtell

This article provides a selection of the most interesting ASA adjudications from July and August and a summary of the key issues considered in those adjudications. July presented another five adjudications relating to kgbdeals.com, following five in June.  The ASA continues to warn this advertiser to ensure that their sales promotions deal fairly with consumers and clearly state all material information in their advertisements.

A recurring theme in August's adjudications was the suitability of certain adverts for children or young adults.  The ASA issued various adjudications to confectionery companies relating to their online games featuring sweets, and whether these games encouraged poor nutritional habits in children.  Also of concern were adverts of a moderate sexual nature, and whether these were irresponsible given the risk that they would be seen by children.  It seems that the medium of the advert is a significant factor in these decisions, with an online video and a newspaper advert receiving contrasting adjudications.

CAP and BCAP have produced additional guidance for marketers in relation to use of the word "free" in marketing communications. Products and services can only be described as "free" if consumers are not required to pay for anything other than the "unavoidable" and "true" cost of responding. It also cannot be used in instances where the price of the item (which must be purchased to take advantage of the free offer), has been increased above its normal cost. As demonstrated in the adjudication relating to Virgin Media below, marketers can only describe a feature of a bundle or package as being free if the price of the package has not increased and if that feature has been recently added and is not intrinsic to the product or service being advertised. However, once that inclusion becomes the norm, it becomes part of the package and therefore not distinguishable as an additional benefit and therefore, not "free".

COMPUTERS AND TELECOMS

1. Everything Everywhere Ltd t/a Orange, 4 July 2012 (The ASA considered a mobile phone price plan claim for free handsets)

2. Localphone Ltd, 4 July 2012 (The ASA held that phone call prices should not be advertised as VAT-exclusive)

3. Virgin Media Ltd, 4 July 2012 (The ASA replaced its decision in respect of a telecoms package promotion)

4. Truphone Ltd, 22 August 2012 (The ASA considered the interpretation of the term "truly global")

FOOD & DRINK

5. Kellogg Marketing and Sales Company (UK) Ltd, 4 July 2012 (The ASA considered whether the advertised calorie count of a bowl of cereal was misleading)

6. Organix Brands Ltd, 4 July 2012 (The ASA considered whether an advert for children's food was irresponsible)

7. Pernod Ricard UK Ltd, 4 July 2012 (The ASA held that an advert did not imply that alcohol could enhance popularity)

8. PepsiCo International Ltd, 1 August 2012 (The ASA considered whether a soft-drink advert encouraged harmful behaviour in children)

9. Brothers Drinks Co Ltd, 8 August 2012 (The ASA held that a Facebook competition was administered unfairly)

10. Leaf Italia SRL t/a Leaf Confectionery / Honey Monster Foods Ltd / Dunhills (Pontefract) plc, 22 August 2012 (The ASA decided whether online games featuring sweets encourage poor nutritional habits in children)

11. Swizzels Matlow Ltd, 29 August 2012 (Another adjudication concerning an online game involving sweets, but this time with a contrasting result)

12. Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board t/a lovepork.co.uk, 29 August 2012 (An interesting adjudication on the true meaning of the Red Tractor label found on British pork)

TRAVEL & TOURISM

13. Abellio Greater Anglia Ltd t/a Greater Anglia, 4 July 2012 (The ASA considered an advert comparing the cost of commuting by train with by car)

14. Broadway Travel Service (Wimbledon) Ltd, 4 July 2012 (The ASA investigated adverts featuring promotional prices for holidays)

15. GSF Car Parts Ltd, 15 August 2012 (The ASA considered whether claims of "up to 70% off" were misleading)

16. General Motors UK Ltd t/a Vauxhall, 22 August 2012 (The ASA decided whether an advert for a new hybrid electronic car was misleading)

HOUSEHOLD

17. DSG Retail Ltd t/a Currys/PC World, 4 July 2012 (The ASA held that "better than half price" claims were not misleading)

18. Philips Electronics UK Ltd, 1 August 2012 (The ASA reviewed several complaints in relation to the Philips Airfryer)

19. The Scotts Company (UK) Ltd, 1 August 2012 (The ASA investigated whether claims relating to Miracle-Gro were misleading and could be substantiated)

OTHER

20. kgb (UK) Ltd, 4/11/25 July 2012 (The ASA considered whether various claims relating to daily deals offered on the kgb website were misleading)

21. Royal National Institute of Blind People, 4 July 2012 (The ASA considered whether a scheduling restriction should be imposed on an advert for the charity)

22. Wonga.com Ltd, 4 July 2012 (The ASA investigated the exclusion of APRs from adverts for short term loans)

23. Guthy-Renker UK Ltd, 18 July 2012 (The ASA considered advertised testimonials and endorsements for a blemish treatment)

24. Agent Provocateur Ltd, 1 August 2012/ X-posed Gentleman's Club, 8 August 2012 (Two interesting adjudications on whether adverts were unsuitable as they could be seen by children)

25. Paddy Power Plc, 1 August 2012 (The ASA considered whether an advert joking about kidney donation was offensive)

26. IMS Residential Ltd, 15 August 2012 (The ASA determined whether claims to be the "No.1 Letting Agent" were misleading and could be substantiated)

27. A4e Ltd, 22 August 2012 (The ASA considered whether a claim to be a "social purpose company" was misleading)

28. Associated Newspapers Ltd, 29 August 2012 (The ASA considered whether claims that a DVD was "free with" a newspaper were misleading)

29. Odeon Cinemas Ltd, 29 August 2012 (The ASA considered whether an offer truly was "15% off" in light of a card-handling fee)

Click here to see in full Snapshot

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com/law-now/mondaq

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 18/09/2012.

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