Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Ads for Civil Claim Services Ltd dated 4 April 2017, seen in May 2017:
a. A Facebook post included text which stated “The BBC, Martin Lewis and National press have all announced a PPI deadline is in place. To run a 22 year PPI check on all your finances visit www.ppisearch.co.uk ...”. The post included an image taken from an interview with Martin Lewis overlaid with text that said “Finally a PPI reclaim company you can trust” in quotation marks.
b. A paid-for Facebook post included text which stated “The BBC, Martin Lewis and National press have all announced a PPI deadline is in place … We are in no way recommended by Martin Lewis or the BBC we are merely using images freely available in-line with current legislation to reinforce the deadline message”. The post included an image taken from an interview with Martin Lewis overlaid with text that said “Finally a PPI reclaim company you can trust” in quotation marks.
Moneysavingexpert.com and Martin Lewis, who believed that the ads misleadingly implied Martin Lewis endorsed the products, challenged whether:
1. ad (a); and
2. ad (b) breached the Code.
1. & 2. Civil Claim Services Ltd said those particular ads had since been removed from their Facebook page and so were no longer active in any marketing campaign and could not be accessed by consumers.
They said, as stated in the ad (b), they had outlined that they were not recommended by Martin Lewis or the BBC and that highlighted that they were not endorsed by either party. They believed they were entitled to use the images and said they had been used by them to illustrate that PPI was in the news and an issue for discussion in the media.
They said they had in no way claimed that Mr Lewis endorsed their services and all steps had been taken to rectify that misunderstanding with the disclaimer at the end of the image.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA considered the images in both ads were likely to be understood by consumers to mean that Martin Lewis had endorsed the advertiser’s product. Further, the text that appeared in quotation marks, overlaid on the image of Martin Lewis, which stated “Finally a PPI reclaim company you can trust” implied Martin Lewis had specifically endorsed Civil Claims Services, which we understood was not the case. We acknowledged that not every use of an image of a person with a public profile would be regarded as an endorsement. However, these particular ads gave the overall impression that Martin Lewis had endorsed Civil Claims Services. Further, while we acknowledged the advertiser had used a disclaimer in small text on ad (b) we did not think that undermined the overall impression, particularly given the prominence of the image and the overlaid text. We therefore concluded that the ads were misleading.
Ads (a) and (b) breached the 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 3.45 3.45 Marketers must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it. (Endorsements and testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Civil Claim Services Ltd to ensure they did not imply their service had been endorsed by any specific individual unless that was the case.