A direct mailing, received in December 2011, was headlined "'URGENT: I showed this to a small private group of customers this year and they were blown away at the simplicity of this. Now you can follow their success and test drive it from home for FREE ...' Let me show you how ordinary people are making '...One Million In 30 Days, £160,000 In Six Months, £35,000 A Month & More...'". Text below stated "If you are looking to make a serious passive income, every month, with a little effort, using a small amount of personal time, at the lowest cost possible, and activate it in the shortest amount of time ... then I want you to read this because this is for you, its HOT RIGHT NOW! ... A BRAND NEW system that brings in £1000's and Tens of thousands AUTOMATICALLY".
The complainant challenged whether the earnings figures were misleading and could be substantiated.
Anderson Dynamics Ltd (Anderson) said the ad was for guides about writing books and e-publishing. They said the earnings claims were those of ordinary people, as stated, and the figures referred to were gathered from the public domain. They provided four links to Wikipedia pages and online articles about successful writers. They said the ad had now been withdrawn.
The ASA considered that the earnings claims in the ad required substantiation with robust evidence which showed that the advertised system had been used to generate earnings of "One Million In 30 Days, £160,000 In Six Months, £35,000 A Month & More..." and "Tens of thousands AUTOMATICALLY". We noted the links provided by Anderson however we also noted that they did not relate to the advertised system.
Because we had not seen evidence that the advertised system could produce the amounts claimed in the ad, we concluded that the earnings claims had not been substantiated and were 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), 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 20.7 20.7 Marketing communications for business opportunities must neither contain unrepresentative or overstated earnings figures nor exaggerate the support available to investors. (Business Opportunities).
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Anderson not to make earnings claims unless they were able to substantiate them with robust evidence.