ASA Ruling on Them and Us UK Ltd
Them and Us UK Ltd
43 Berkeley Square
10 August 2016
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, of which one was Not upheld and one was Upheld.
A website, www.robertcroucher.com, for a consultancy featured text that stated “Film £40 million raised 10,000 jobs created … Most finance houses over the last decade have been marketing films as loss-making with a view to selling tax breaks explains Robert Croucher, executive producer of Them and Us Film … An independent film costs between $15 and $40 million, and to secure return on that investment Them and Us Film has developed a strategy using decades of experience … To attract investors they showcase considerable success in previous projects … As Croucher champions: The goals are pretty straightforward: create fantastic independent film for the next decade. That’s it. The impact on the industry in the UK alone will be thousands of jobs are created through the work that we do here …”.
One complainant challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:
1. “£40 million raised”; and
2. “10,000 jobs created”.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Them and Us UK Ltd provided documents which they believed showed that their consultancy service in sourcing finance for independent films had raised £40 million.
Them and Us UK referred to a written agreement they had with a specific client and stated that they had helped them raise £20 million in private equity, which was subsequently increased to £40 million by the investment company. Them and Us UK believed that this was demonstrated in the correspondence between their client and the investment company. Furthermore, Them and Us UK stated that the investment company had been committed to financing their client’s independent film production and development projects since 29 November 2013 and continued to do so.
2. Them and Us UK referred to the claims “Film £40 million raised 10,000 jobs created 10 years of independent film making” and the text “The goals are pretty straight forward: create fantastic independent film for the next decade. That’s it. The impact on the industry in the UK alone will be that thousands of jobs are created through the work that we do here. I’m quite proud of that”. They believed that this made sufficiently clear that from the £40 million they had helped raise for the UK film industry, would create an estimated 10,000 jobs over a 10-year period.
Them and Us UK stated that the average production cost of an independent feature film was $10–15 million (dependent on casting) and required a workforce of between 300 and 500 people, which included administrative staff, cast members, and production and post production workers. Them and Us UK disclosed the total aggregate investment their client received, which included funding from Motion Picture Global Investments plc (MPGI), friends/family, tax credits, pre-sales and bank loans. Based on this amount, Them and Us UK believed it was possible for their client to make a minimum of 40 film productions and estimated this would involve at least 10,000 employed positions at the very least.
1. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the claim “£40 million raised” was based on the work Them and Us UK had carried out in sourcing finance for a particular client.
We noted that the client had contracted to use Them and Us UK as a consultant to find “potential sources of capital” to fund their films, as reflected in their written agreement. We understood that Them and Us UK had located an investment company for their client, which agreed to transfer funds on a monthly basis until the total amount of £40 million was reached within a timeframe of 18–24 months. This, we noted, was reflected in the correspondence dated 12 September 2013 sent from the investment company to the client.
We therefore considered that Them and Us UK had provided adequate evidence to support the claim “Film £40 million raised” and concluded this had been substantiated and was not misleading.
On this point we investigated the claim under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation), but did not find it in breach.
We noted that Them and Us UK believed that the text “The goals are pretty straight forward: create fantastic independent film for the next decade. That’s it. The impact on the industry in the UK alone will be that thousands of jobs are created through the work that we do here”, clarified the claim “10,000 jobs created” as a projected figure.
However, we considered that the claim along with the further text would be interpreted as an objective claim, that Them and Us UK had already contributed, via their consultancy service, to the creation of 10,000 jobs within the UK film industry, which we understood was not the case. The claim was based on projected figures regarding the number of workers (300–500) and average costs ($10–15 million) Them and Us UK believed were normally involved in making an independent film. We understood that these figures were then applied to the client’s total aggregate investment to calculate the estimated number of films they could produce and thereby, the total number of staff that would be needed. However, Them and Us UK had not provided documentation to support their projections or other evidence to show that they had directly contributed to the creation of actual jobs.
We therefore concluded that Them and Us UK had not substantiated the claim “10,000 jobs created” and that it was misleading.
On this point the claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Them and Us UK Ltd that they must possess robust documentary evidence to support absolute claims in their future advertising.