A paid-for Facebook ad for the Borthwick Group, a credit broker, seen on 14 June 2023, featured an image of a red box with text in white, on a red background, that stated “BREAKING […] FREE REPLACEMENT BOILERS AVAILABLE FOR HOMEOWNERS IN RECEIPT OF BENEFITS”. The image also featured the text “BG NEWS”. A caption accompanying the image stated “Attention Homeowners! Is your heating system 10 years old? Upgrade to an energy-efficient Combi Boiler for FREE with the ECO 4 scheme. You could also qualify for FREE home insulation”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad suggested it had been endorsed or approved by The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Borthwick Group (Energy) Ltd t/a Borthwick Group said the ad had not been running for serval months and that they were committed to ensuring their advertising remained consistent with industry standards. They said that while they understood the complainants’ concerns, in their view the ad had not breached any trademarks or copyrights, or directly made any false claims. They said the ad clearly stated their name and company logo, and that it was common practice for news outlets and advertisers to use “breaking” in their ads. They confirmed the ad had not been approved by the BBC.
The ASA welcomed Borthwick Group’s assurance that the ad had been withdrawn.
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must not claim that the marketer (or any other entity referred to), the marketing communication or the advertised product had been approved, endorsed or authorised by any public or other body if it has not.
We considered the use of a red background with white text that stated “BREAKING” and the presentation of “BG NEWS” in white squares with cut-out text was stylistically similar to that of a BBC breaking news Facebook post. We therefore considered the ad gave the impression it had been endorsed or approved by the BBC. However, we understood the ad had not been endorsed or approved by the BBC. We therefore concluded that it was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), and 3.50 (Endorsements and Testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We reminded Borthwick Group (Energy) Ltd t/a Borthwick Group not to misleadingly imply that their marketing communications had been endorsed or approved by the BBC, or any other public body, if they had not.