Two issues were investigated, one of which was Upheld, and one was informally resolved after the advertiser agreed to amend their advertising.
A website for BMA Models, www.bmamodels.com, seen on 9 May 2018, included text on the home page which stated “The UK’s Number One Commercial Model Agency”.
The complainant challenged whether the claim “The UK’s Number One Commercial Model Agency” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Agency Management Ltd t/a BMA Models said they were the largest and longest serving multi-commercial model agency, and had been for over 30 years, and they represented the largest cross section of individuals in respect of ethnicity and age, supplying models from fashion and commercial work through to acting. They also said that no other agency rivalled them or was the same as them, and they were therefore the leading agency of all other commercial agencies in the UK.
The ASA considered that the meaning of the claim “The UK’s Number One Commercial Model Agency” was unclear and consumers might interpret it in a variety of ways. Those included, for example, the claim being understood to mean that BMA Models had the largest portfolio of commercial models in the UK; that it obtained the highest number of jobs for commercial models; or that it had the highest profits in comparison to competitor agencies.
BMA Models had not provided a full explanation of the basis for the claim, including a definition of a ‘commercial’ modelling agency, or the competitors to which the comparative claim related. We had not seen any evidence demonstrating that BMA Models were the leading commercial agency in the UK in comparison with their competitors, and they had not provided evidence to substantiate their explanation of the meaning of the claim, or any other interpretation.
We therefore concluded that the claim “The UK’s Number One Commercial Model Agency” was misleading and had not been substantiated, and that the ad was in breach of the Code.
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), 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 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BMA Models to ensure their future ads made clear the basis of comparative claims and they held robust evidence to substantiate such claims.