ASA Ruling on General Motors UK Ltd
General Motors UK Ltd t/a
20 February 2013
Number of complaints:
A TV ad for the Vauxhall Corsa included on-screen text that stated "0% APR Representative. Corsa SXi is shown. £179 per month, over 60 months, £3780 deposit on Flexible Finance. Participating Retailers. Finance by Vauxhall Motor Finance or Vauxhall Finance. Subject to status. 18+. T&Cs apply. Guarantee may be required. www.vauxhall.co.uk/offers. First year Free Insurance on Corsa SXi models. Underwritten by Ageas Insurance Ltd. Eligibility criteria applies. 21+. T&Cs apply. Warranty covers ownership of 1st car owner. 100,000 mile limit. Annual check required. T&Cs apply. Vauxhall.co.uk/warranty.
Two viewers challenged whether the ad was misleading, because they felt that the style and size of the on-screen text made it illegible.
General Motors UK Ltd t/a Vauxhall (Vauxhall) said they were aware of the strict standards on the size and type of font used, and the length of time text had to be on screen in TV ads. They believed the font size of the text in the ad was two sizes above the minimum allowed for TV ads, and that the time the text appeared on screen was equal to or longer than was required by the relevant BCAP guidance. They said that, in order to fulfil the legibility requirements of that guidance, the text appeared in a white font on a black static background. They recognised that on-screen text should be kept to a minimum and they believed that the text in the ad was the minimum legally required to cover all of the financial aspects of the offer. They pointed out that they could not directly control the picture quality of the ad as it appeared to viewers, because it was influenced by factors including the size, age and quality of the TV used to watch the ad. While they aimed to match or exceed legibility requirements, they were aware that it was not necessarily possible to ensure legibility for all viewers. They said they were disappointed to hear of the complainants' experience and that, while they believed they had met or exceeded the technical requirements of the guidance, they would endeavour to improve the legibility of the text used in future.
Clearcast said they reviewed all substantiation against the offers advertised to make sure that only absolute material conditions be included as qualifying legal text. The text was measured for height and duration of hold and was found to comply with the guidance. They felt that the font style and colour was appropriate to maintain legibility and, although they appreciated that the text was lengthy, they felt it had been introduced early and held throughout the sales message towards the latter part of the ad, which gave the viewer enough time to read it all.
The ASA understood that the complainants had found the text to be in a "fancy" font, condensed, too small and out of focus, which made it unreadable. We noted that the BCAP Code required qualifying text to be presented clearly and that BCAP published specific guidance in addition to the Code on the criteria that superimposed text should meet with regard to size and style of presentation. We noted that it was a prerequisite for clearance by Clearcast that the text height met the minimum requirements of the guidance and, with respect to size, we did not consider the text to be problematic.
We noted that the text was superimposed directly onto moving images of brightly coloured cars, coloured smoke and buildings, before being shown against a solid black background while the voice-over explained some elements of the available finance package. We understood that external factors could impact on the quality of the ad, so that the legal text looked different when viewed on different TVs. It was not possible to assess the quality of the ad when viewed by the complainants, but we considered that the text appeared clear, even when set against the moving background, and we noted that it was set against the solid black background for a significant period. Although the text was lengthy, we considered that it had been held on-screen for a sufficient period to allow viewers to read it. We considered that the on-screen text was legible in its current form. We welcomed Vauxhall's decision to seek ways of improving the text's legibility and concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.11 (Qualifications), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.