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ASA and CAP Annual Report 2013: Every UK ad a responsible ad

29 May 2014

Our Annual Report published today reveals how our work over the last year has achieved some significant changes in advertising practice for the benefit of consumers and business as well as outlining our ambition –  to make every UK ad a responsible ad.

In 2013 our ongoing work tackling misleading ads brought about real benefits for consumers and business.  Through ASA rulings, proactive monitoring of ads as well as CAP help and advice we helped make sure ads are clear and responsible, including by taking action on:

• Payday loan ads – alongside ASA bans of socially irresponsible ads that trivialised taking out a high interest loan, CAP published new guidance for advertisers in the payday loan sector clearly setting out the criteria for preparing their ads in a responsible way

• Copycat websites – we banned several ads and claims on websites by companies charging a premium for services such as passport and driving licence renewals that are provided much cheaper or even free by Government. We also commissioned research to help us understand how these sites cause confusion and help us tackle poor practice

• Theatre ticket pricing – we brought theatre ticket providers into line for failing to  include compulsory administrative fees in prices on their websites until late in the purchasing process. We also assessed 130 websites and worked directly with 55 businesses to correct the pricing on their sites

• Letting agent fees – we took action to require all letting agents to be up front in their ads about non-optional fees, like reference costs or admin fees, that they charge as well as issuing detailed guidance to trade bodies and the lettings sector on how to avoid misleading prospective tenants

Our work resulted in 4,161 ads being changed or withdrawn, a record high. We received 31,136 complaints about 18,580 ads with, significantly, 31% of our caseload represented by online ads; perhaps reflecting the fact that advertisers continue to find new and innovative ways to advertise and engage with consumers through new channels.  On top of that, our focus on providing advertisers with the help to get their ads right saw CAP delivering training and advice on over 160,000 occasions, including recording 98,825 visits to its online advice resources.

As part of our ambition to make every UK ad a responsible ad our Report also highlights our new five-year strategy and how we’ll be placing even more emphasis on proactive work.

Chairman of the ASA, Lord Chris Smith said: “Overall, UK advertising is creative, impactful and overwhelmingly responsible. By listening to consumers and business we’ve taken action to stop various advertising techniques that are misleading or simply unfair. By spending more time tackling problem ads in a swift and proactive manner we can help achieve our ambition: to make every UK ad a responsible ad.”

Read the ASA and CAP Annual Report 2013

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