ASA Ruling on 1&1 Internet Ltd
1&1 Internet Ltd
10-14 Bath Road
18 December 2013
Number of complaints:
A TV ad, for 1&1 Internet Ltd, which offered top-level domain names, featured images of various domain names, which included 'www.martin.ltd', 'www.martin.shop', 'www.martin.estate', 'www.martin.cars', 'www.martin.london', 'www.martin.scot', 'www.martin.web' and '[name]@martin.mail '. The accompanying voice-over stated, "Do you own a company? Or an online shop? Are you an estate agent? Or a car dealer? Are you from London? Or maybe Scotland? Are you looking for a great new web? or e-mail address? Then choose from over 700 new domains Pre-order yours for free, before someone else does and link it to your website."
The complainant challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that the top-level domain names, referred to in the ad, were available for purchase or reservation via pre-order, because they understood that a number of top-level domain names were not yet available for registration.
1&1 Internet Ltd believed the ad made clear that new top-level domain names could be pre-ordered free of charge. They explained that the first person to pre-order a particular domain name would have the opportunity to pre-register it as soon as its terms and conditions become available. They explained that once a customer's domain name order had been confirmed by 1&1 Internet, they would pass on their request to the relevant domain name registry. They said that if orders for a customer's preferred domain name were received by the relevant domain name registry from other providers, an allocation process, in accordance with the rules of the registry would apply. They said the allocation of pre-ordered domain names was carried out by an independent awarding authority
1&1 Internet said the top-level domain names did not have exact launch dates, but that they expected the first new top-level domain names to be launched in October/ November 2013.
Clearcast believed the ad made clear that consumers had the opportunity to register an interest in the domain name with the option to buy it when it was offered for sale.
The ASA noted the ad invited consumers to choose from over 700 new domains and to pre-order those domains. Whilst we considered consumers would understand the reference to 'pre-order' to mean that the domain names were not currently available, we considered they would understand the ad to mean that they could place an order with 1&1 Internet that would secure their chosen domain name when it became available. However, we understood that that was not the case and that upon receipt of a pre-order, 1&1 Internet would pass on the customer's request to the relevant domain name registry, who would apply their own allocation process when the requested domain name became available. We therefore considered the presentation of the ad was likely to mislead. On that basis, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.