A direct mailing for ADT Fire and Security seen in July 2018 included text which stated “As you will no doubt be aware, there has recently been criminal activity in your area”.
The complainant challenged whether the mailing was likely to cause undue distress.
ADT Fire and Security plc acknowledged the ASA’s enquiries but did not provide a substantive response.
The ASA was concerned by ADT Fire and Security’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of the CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “As you will no doubt be aware, there has recently been criminal activity in your area” to mean that there had been criminal activity in the area where they lived and that it was likely to have been burglaries. We considered that the claim could cause fear and distress, particularly to more vulnerable recipients.
ADT Fire and Security had failed to provide any evidence that there had been any criminal activity including burglaries in the local area to where the ad had been seen and we therefore considered that they had not demonstrated that the fear caused by the ad was justifiable. On that basis, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause unjustifiable fear and distress to consumers.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility) and 4.2 4.2 Marketing communications must not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason; if it can be justified, the fear or distress should not be excessive. Marketers must not use a shocking claim or image merely to attract attention. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told ADT Fire and Security plc to ensure that any future ads would not cause fear or distress without justifiable reason.