It only takes one complaint to put you firmly on the radar of the ASA
Now that the Advertising Standards Authority have the power to investigate complaints about online advertising, advertisers need to make sure that their advertising claims are accurate and that they have evidence to support them.
If advertisers are found to be in breach of advertising guidelines set down by CAP (Code of Advertising Practice) their ads have to be removed and they are not allowed to advertise again in that form.
When your claim is particularly broad, like 'save up to X% off X', that is a potentially strong and broad-reaching message that can't be advertised again.
So make sure it's an honest claim, and that you can prove it!
See the recent adjudication below to see how it works...
ASA Adjudication on Met Global Ltd
Met Global Ltd t/a dhr.com/otel.com
Date: 11 May 2011
Media: Internet (sales promotion)
Sector: Holidays and travel
Complaint Ref: 151111
Two sponsored links, for hotel rooms:
a. The first sponsored link
stated "Strand Palace Hotel - Up to 70% Off Strand Palace Hotel Find Discount
Rates on Top Hotels! dhr.com/StrandPalaceHotel".
b. The second sponsored
link stated "Strand PalaceHotel [sic] Up to 70% Off Strand PalaceHotel [sic]
Bargain Rates. Book Your Hotel Now! otel.com/StrandPalaceHotel".
The Strand Palace Hotel challenged whether the ad was misleading, because
they believed that Met Global Ltd did not offer Strand Palace Hotel rooms at a
70% discounted rate.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Met Global did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Met Global's lack of response and apparent disregard
for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable
delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our
enquiries and told them to do so in future.
Met Global did not supply any evidence to support the claim that customers
could save up to 70% on hotel rooms at the Strand Palace Hotel. We therefore
considered that the claims had not been substantiated and concluded that the ad
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay), 3.1
(Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation)
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We asked CAP to inform its
members of the problem with Met Global. We told Met Global to ensure that they
held robust substantiation to support all claims in future.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)