ASA Adjudications Snapshot - November 2010

This article provides a selection of the most interesting ASA adjudications from November and a summary of the key issues considered in the adjudications.

This month the ASA considered a number of offensiveness complaints against adverts. However, although the ASA acknowledged that these might be distasteful to some consumers, it considered the advertiser's intention and, in many cases, the light-hearted overall impression of the advert when making its decisions. A number of the adjudications also address the complex issue of pricing, which has been considered recently by the OFT.

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  1. Beiersdorf UK Ltd, 10 November 2010 (the relationship between the advertised product and the quoted survey was not sufficiently clear) 2. Coty UK Ltd, 17 November 2010 (the ASA concluded that an advert that might be considered distasteful by some was unlikely to cause widespread offence, but should be targeted appropriately) 3. Coty UK Ltd t/a Rimmel London, 24 November 2010 (advertisers should be clear about the effects obtainable from use of a product alone)


  2. Dreams plc, 3 November 2010 (a price promise alone did not substantiate a "lowest price" claim) 5. Dreams plc, 17 November 2010 (the ASA concluded that a banner advert did not give sufficient information about a time-limited offer or a claim based on future selling prices) 6. Camerabox Ltd, 3 November 2010 (the advertiser did not provide evidence that a product was actually available at the advertised price, as opposed to at a higher price) 7. Waterstones Booksellers Ltd, 3 November 2010 (a retailer cannot rely on consumers understanding industry accepted jargon and must make clear which goods are excluded from a promotion)


  3. Dave Whelan Sports Ltd, 10 November 2010 (small print in an advert offering a free product contradicted, rather than clarified, the headline claim)


  4. Wells & Youngs Brewing Company Ltd, 17 November 2010 (the themes of alcohol and sexual success in an advert were sufficiently distinct and the advert was therefore not irresponsible) 10. Ryanair Ltd, 17 November 2010 (the ASA did not uphold complaints in relation to offensiveness and substantiation, although it did not consider two of the three forms of evidence submitted by the advertiser to be sufficient) 11. American Apparel (UK) Ltd, 24 November 2010 (the ASA considered the stylised nature of the advert and the publication in which it appeared) 12. Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd, 17 November 2010 (the ASA considered the intention of the advert and how likely consumers were to make the association with a potentially offensive message) 13. Invicta Gas Ltd, 24 November 2010 (a light-hearted advert was acceptable to the ASA, notwithstanding that it played on a stereotype relating to women) 14. Asda Financial Services Ltd, 3 November 2010 (a disclaimer should not contradict information given elsewhere in the advert and should not confuse or mislead consumers)


  5. ITV Broadcasting Ltd t/a UTV, 10 November 2010 (the ASA weighed up the message of the advert and its target audience with the likelihood of causing distress to children)


  6. Beiersdorf UK Ltd, 10 November 2010 A cinema advert for face cream showed a woman moisturising her face. The voice-over stated "So it's no surprise that 37% of women feel more attractive now than they did ten years ago". On-screen text carried the same claim. Superimposed text stated "37% of 12,267 women interviewed". Complaint/Decision One complainant challenged whether the advert was misleading because it was unclear whether the claim related to the results of a survey of women generally, or a survey of those who had used the face cream. The ASA upheld the complaint. It considered that the claim would be understood by consumers to mean that 37% of women interviewed felt more attractive because they used the advertised face cream. However, the participants had been asked whether they felt more attractive than ten years earlier in general terms, rather than in relation to the advertised product. The ASA considered that the advert was ambiguous in its presentation of the relationship between the survey and the advertised product. Accordingly it concluded that the advert could be confusing and therefore was misleading. This is the second month in a row in which a Beiersdorf UK Ltd advert has been considered by the ASA, although in October the relevant complaint was not upheld by the ASA. This decision reminds advertisers of the risk of implied claims and, in particular, that they must take care to present statistics in a clear and understandable manner so as to avoid misleading consumers. In doing so it is important to ensure that the relationship between any survey results or statements in the advert and the claims being made are clear. 2. Coty UK Ltd, 17 November 2010 A television advert for perfume showed the singer Beyoncé lying naked in a room. Further shots in the advert showed the singer wearing a revealing red dress and touching her neck and chest, leaning against a window moving her hand down her neck and breast, and dancing seductively. The advert showed images of her chest, back and thighs. Complaint/Decision 14 viewers complained about the advert on the basis that it was offensive and/or that it was unsuitable for broadcast when children might be watching. The ASA noted that there was no explicit sexual content and that Beyoncé was not shown fully naked in the advert. Whilst the ASA noted that the advert was sexually suggestive and therefore might be distasteful to some, it concluded that, in the context of perfume marketing, the advert was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence. In respect of the second challenge, the ASA noted that Clearcast had given the advert an ex-kids restriction, so that it would not be shown in or around children's programmes. However, several of the complainants indicated that their children had seen the advert. The ASA considered that the singer's body movements and the camera's focus on shots of her dress falling away to partially expose her breasts created "a sexually provocative ad". It therefore upheld this complaint and considered that the advert should not have been shown before 7.30 pm. This adjudication, which also received press coverage including on the BBC website, highlights the importance of appropriate targeting of adverts and the need to ensure that young children are not exposed to unsuitable imagery. The adjudication is also an example, further to the recent decisions in October in relation to MTV Networks Europe t/a Viva and Sony Europe Ltd, of the ASA not upholding an offensiveness complaint, even where it acknowledges that the advert in question might be distasteful to some.

  7. Coty UK Ltd t/a Rimmel London, 24 November 2010

    This adjudication concerns two magazine adverts and one television advert for a mascara which featured a dial with three settings for users to achieve different eyelash effects. The two magazine adverts showed three images of a model's eye, each showing progressively longer, more prominent eyelashes. In each of the adverts, vertical small print text stated "shot with lash inserts". The television advert showed close-ups shots of the model's eyes with her eyelashes appearing to increase in length with each look. On screen text...

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