Ad description

A direct mailing promoted a Unison member offer. Text on the front of the envelope was presented as handwriting and stated "This came to me by mistake. Made me want to be a member of your union! No.35".


The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because it had been presented in a way that implied a neighbour had made a genuine referral.


UIA (Insurance) Ltd (UIA) responded on behalf of Unison Ltd. UIA did not feel that the message from 'the neighbour' was presented as a genuine endorsement, but instead was a message that appeared to be handwritten, but was clearly in a printed font from a fictitious neighbour. They highlighted that the message from the 'neighbour' was not from a named individual, but instead stated a house number, which they believed was something that was unlikely to have been the case if it was a genuine neighbour endorsement. UIA also said the message on the outer envelope was not continued inside the promotion, and therefore did not make up the bulk of the communication. Instead it had been designed to generate some interest in order to get the recipient's attention. They also said the mailing contained genuine endorsements from Unison members, which were more likely to encourage members to purchase home insurance than the message on the outer envelope.



The ASA noted UIA's comments. We noted that both the Unison and UIA logos appeared on the mailing and considered that it was clear that it had been sent from a commercial source. We understood, however, that the "handwritten" endorsement on the envelope was fictitious and considered that it could mislead readers into believing that, after receiving the mailing in error and reading the text "25% off home insurance for UNISON members", one of their neighbours had added a note recommending the offer. We therefore considered that the text could lead a recipient to believe that the offer was particularly generous and encourage them to open the envelope and find out more about the offer or subscribe. We concluded that the text was misleading and in breach of the Code.

The mailing breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  (misleading advertising),  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) and  3.45 3.45 Marketers must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it.  (Endorsement and Testimonials).


The mailing must not appear again in its current form.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.45     3.7    

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