An ad for Able Plan in a content discovery network, which appeared at the bottom of a news article on a local news website seen on 22 August 2018. The ad featured an image of pallbearers carrying a coffin and text beneath that stated “Caernarfon: 1000s of Over 60s taking advantage of a new funeral policy.”
The complainant, who understood that Caernarfon only had a population of 10,000, challenged whether the claim “Caernarfon: 1000s of Over 60s taking advantage of a new funeral policy” was misleading and could be substantiated.
32 Squared Media Ltd t/a Able Plan said that the place name in their ads (e.g. Caernarfon) changed based, at least in part, on the IP address of the reader. They said the location that appeared was usually the most relevant nearby city but in the case of the ad in question, a town name had appeared.
They said the ad did not directly refer to thousands of people in Caernarfon and that they had separated the relevance of the location with a colon. They said that in future they would not use the combination of a geographical title and a number, e.g. “1000s", in their marketing.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “Caernarfon: 1000s of Over 60s taking advantage of a new funeral policy” to mean that thousands of people over the age of 60 who were living in Caernarfon had taken out the advertised funeral policy. The claim about the popularity of the policy in their local area would, therefore, impact on their decision to enquire further about it.
We understood, however, that “Caernarfon” had been inserted into the ad’s text automatically, based on the complainant’s location (which had been identified from their IP address among other factors). Able Plan did not have evidence that thousands of over 60s living in Caernarfon had taken out the advertised funeral policy.
While we welcomed Able Plan’s assurance that they would amend their future marketing, we concluded the claim had not been substantiated and the ad was therefore misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Able Plan not to claim that a specific number of consumers in a particular area used their services, unless they held substantiation for the claim.