A direct mailing for a loans company seen in September 2016 was sent in a white windowed envelope and showed the recipient’s address on the cover letter. On the back of the envelope was text that stated, “If undelivered, please return to Creation Financial Services PO Box 7578, BIRMINGHAM B26 3FD”. The cover letter featured text that stated, “Stay in control with a Creation Loan Dear … September is a great month to get organised; so whether you’re looking to upgrade your car or consolidate outstanding debts, a Creation Personal Loan could be much more affordable than you think. With loans raging from £1,000 to £25,000, kick start your plans and apply today …”.
The recipient challenged whether the ad, specifically the envelope, was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
Creation Consumer Finance Ltd believed that the document enclosed within the envelope was clearly identifiable as marketing material, but that the envelope itself did not need to be. They believed that the envelope could not be defined as an ad under the CAP Code because it did not feature any marketing information or claims.
Creation Consumer Finance stated that the envelope did not feature any information that misleadingly suggested that it was from an official source, was private correspondence, or likely to have misled recipients about the importance of its contents. They stated that the envelope only featured the complainant’s name and address as well as their name and return address if the direct mailing was undelivered. Furthermore, they believed that the CAP Code did not require direct mailings to be identified as a marketing communication before recipients opened the envelope.
The ASA considered that whilst the envelope itself did not feature any marketing claims, in the context of a direct mailing it formed part of the marketing communication. Therefore, the recipient needed to be made aware prior to opening the envelope that it contained marketing material.
The CAP Code required advertisers to ensure that their marketing communications were obviously identifiable as such. They should be designed and presented in a way that made it clear they were advertising material.
We acknowledged that the enclosed content addressed to the recipient made sufficiently clear that they had been sent marketing material for a loans company. However, whilst we noted that the reverse of the envelope featured Creation Consumer Finance’s company name and return address, we considered that this was insufficient to make clear to the recipient that the direct mailing was a marketing communication prior to opening it. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 2.1 2.1 Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such. (Recognition of marketing communications).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Creation Consumer Finance Ltd to ensure that their future direct mailings made clear before opening that they were marketing communications.