A TV ad for Barton Park Estates, a luxury park home retailer, seen on 30 September 2021, featured a voice-over which stated, “Welcome to Devon Oaks Park, a luxury development of stylish, well-equipped bungalows in the delightful Devon countryside. Enjoy year round comfort, security and peace of mind in this beautiful location.” Text in a box at the top right-hand of the screen, displayed through most of the ad, stated “MOVE TO DEVON OAKS THIS AUTUMN Deluxe Park Homes Starting from £125,000 […] Save £5,000.00 on all homes until end the of [sic] 2021”. Further text at the bottom of the screen, also displayed through most of the ad, stated “11 month residency on 35 year lease. Deposit Required by 31st Dec 2021. T&Cs Apply. Monthly site fees apply”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading, because it did not make clear that the properties could not be used as a main residence.
Barton Park Estates Ltd t/a Devon Oaks Park said that text stating “11 month residency […] T&Cs Apply” was shown on-screen in a visible and prominent manner from the start of the ad to more than halfway through. They said that the units advertised in the ad were routinely referred to as “homes”, "holiday homes” or “park homes”. They explained that there were generally two types of licenses available for this sort of unit: a full residential license and a holiday license. A full residential license allowed leaseholders to occupy the unit all year, provided them protection under the Mobile Homes Act 2013, and allowed them to use the unit as their sole or main residence (for example for the purposes of paying council tax). A holiday license only allowed leaseholders to reside at the unit for 11 months of the year, or sometimes up to 50 weeks. Barton Park Estates said that only holiday licenses allowing for a maximum of 11 months residency were available for units at Devon Oaks Park.
Clearcast also believed that the on-screen text made clear to viewers that they could stay at the Park all year round, but that this was limited to 11 months of residency, to ensure leaseholders complied with the terms of the license. They said that the text was held for a considerable portion of the ad, which provided enough time for viewers to read and understand it.
The ASA understood that the units at Devon Oaks Park were licensed as holiday homes, which under the terms of that licensing could not be occupied for more than 11 months per year, and could not be used as leaseholders’ sole or main residence. We considered that viewers were unlikely to be familiar with the technical legal details of park licensing, and the implications for their rights.
The ad included prominent on-screen text which included “11 month residency on 35 year lease”. However, we considered that this text alone did not adequately communicate to viewers that units at Devon Oaks Park could only be occupied for a maximum of 11 months per year, and that they could not be used as a leaseholder’s sole or main residence. In the absence of adequate information to that effect we considered the reference in the voice-over to “year round comfort, security and peace of mind” and the on-screen text “MOVE TO DEVON OAKS” gave the impression that leaseholders could use the units as their sole or main residence.
The ad also included the on-screen text “Deluxe Park Homes”. We understood the term “park home” was commonly used to refer to a mobile home that could be used as the leaseholder’s sole or main residence. We considered the use of that term therefore also contributed to the impression that the advertised units could be used as a main residence, including for viewers who were more familiar with mobile homes.
Because viewers were likely to understand from the ad that the units advertised could be used as a sole or main residence when that was not the case, we concluded the ad was misleading and breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 319(2). and 3.2 3.2 Advertisements must not mislead consumers by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. (Misleading advertising), and 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Barton Park Estates Ltd t/a Devon Oaks Park to ensure that ads for holiday units made sufficiently clear that they could not be used for sole or main residential purposes in addition to making clear the maximum period of residency period.