ASA Adjudication on Body Matters Gold Ltd
Body Matters Gold Ltd t/a
198 London Road
12 September 2012
Number of complaints:
A regional radio ad, on Bright FM, for a jewellery shop's gold exchange service was in the style of a news bulletin and began with the sound of fanfare and a male voice stating, "And now a news update on those reports of a possible crash in the price of gold. Over to our reporter, Penny Paidmore, who's outside Real Jewellery in Burgess Hill." As he spoke, chimes played in the background.
The female reporter said, "Yes, as we've been hearing, after several months of price stability it seems possible that gold prices are about to fall and there's a flood of customers here at Real looking to get the best possible price for their unwanted and broken gold." The male voice asked, "But what makes Real such a popular choice, Penny?" The reporter said, "Well people know they actually test the gold right here in front of you so you can get an instant quote and cash on the spot, helping stay one step ahead of any possible price crash."
The male voice said, "Thanks Penny. So, the advice on the street is to take your unwanted gold to Real Jewellery, London Road, Burgess Hill as soon as possible." As he spoke, chimes played in the background.
One listener challenged whether the ad was obviously distinguishable from editorial content.
Real Jewellers believed that the following factors made it clear that this was an ad: the use of the name Penny Paidmore; the use of the fanfare in the background; the fact that the ad was aired in the same format several times a day; and the fact that Real Jewellers were identified in the ad where the voice-over stated, "Thanks Penny. So the advice on the street is to take your unwanted gold to Real Jewellery, London Road, Burgess Hill".
Real Jewellers explained that they had pulled the ad immediately after receiving the complaint and they did not intend to use the ad again. They said they would like to use the same format in future ads because this gave the listener a chance to understand the current market trends and predictions and gave them an informative insight into the trade talk about the price of gold.
Real Jewellers had received no comments or complaints from customers about the ad, except that a few had joked about the name "Penny Paidmore". None of the customers who had commented on the ad had experienced confusion about whether or not it was an ad.
Bright FM believed the ad was easily distinguishable from editorial content for the following reasons. First, the ad mentioned Real Jewellery four times, therefore making it clear that it was an ad for a particular retailer rather than a news item. Second, the reference to "Penny Paidmore" was clearly humorous and this provided a contrast to the delivery of a serious news item. Half of the airtime of the ad related to Real Jewellers' unique selling point, in particular, testing the gold in front of the customer, providing an instant quote and paying with cash on the spot. Bright FM considered that these were very clear commercial messages. On the other hand, the reference to a possible crash in gold prices was fleeting. The style of the ad, with the newsreader having a discussion with the reporter, the fanfare and music in the background, was different to the way in which Bright FM normally delivered the news on their station. In 98% of times the ad was played, it was sandwiched between two other ads, again making it clear that it was a marketing communication. Finally, the ad was played heavily during the period it was on-air and achieved an average 'opportunity to hear' of six. Therefore an average listener would have heard it enough times to understand that it was not a news item.
The ASA noted BCAP Code rule 2.2 stated that if an ad featured elements reminiscent of a news bulletin then the audience should be able to quickly recognise the message as an ad. We noted the ad was in the style of a news bulletin and opened with an introduction from the news presenter stating, "And now a news update on those reports of a possible crash in the price of gold." The fanfare and chimes at the beginning and end of the ad, together with the urgency and tone of the presenter's voice were also reminiscent of a news bulletin. Nevertheless, we considered that the audience would have quickly recognised that the feature was an ad. The reporter's name, Penny Paidmore, was a comic, fictitious name. The two references to Real Jewellery in Burgess Hill, at the beginning and end of the ad, together with the call to action to take unwanted gold to Real Jewellery at the end of the ad, indicated this was a marketing communication rather than editorial. The fact that the ad explained the service offered by Real Jewellery, i.e. buying unwanted gold for cash, and tried to sell that service to listeners (by claiming it was a popular choice and explaining the reasons why, i.e. on-the-spot testing and instant quotes), contributed to the impression that this was an ad rather than editorial. We also noted Bright FM's comment that in 98% of times this ad was broadcast, it was sandwiched between other ads and that it was in a style completely different to their own news bulletins.
For these reasons, we considered the ad was obviously distinguishable from editorial content and quickly recognisable as an ad.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 2.1 and 2.2 (Recognition of advertising), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.