A TV ad for Sunny Loans, seen in July 2019, featured a couple in a caravan that was being rocked back and forth as a bear scratched itself against it. A man stated, "Ups and downs. Downs and downs. Well, that's just life being life, so it's sweet to have someone to turn to, when that bear comes along. Like my buddies at Sunny. Checking if you're eligible for a Sunny loan won't affect your credit score. Yeah, that's life support. Swing by their site, and stress not. Loans from £100 at sunny.co.uk." Text at the bottom of the screen stated "Subject to status. T&Cs apply. 18+", "Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk" and "Representative 1281% APR". Text at the top of the screen throughout the duration of the ad stated "sunny.co.uk" and "Loans from £100". At the end of the ad, further on-screen text appeared that stated “Sunny. Fast, flexible loans from £100”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad breached the Code because the representative Annual Percentage Rate (RAPR) was not given adequate prominence as required.
Elevate Credit International Ltd t/a Sunny said they did not consider that the statement “Checking if you’re eligible for a Sunny loan won’t affect your credit score” in the voice-over was a trigger to include the RAPR, for the purposes of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Consumer Credit Sourcebook (CONC). Sunny said that the statement was not an incentive to apply for credit; rather, it was an invitation to check whether the viewer was eligible to make an application. They said that the statement was merely one of fact, and there was no inference, direct or indirect, that a comparison was being made. They referred to CONC rule 3.5.8(3), which stated that a financial promotion “does not necessarily include a comparison where it merely refers to a person, product or service in a factual manner”.
Sunny stated that the actual trigger for inclusion of the RAPR was the wording “fast, flexible loans” that appeared at the end of the ad. Those words were held on screen for two seconds, and did not appear until 25 seconds into the ad, by which time the RAPR had already been displayed for eight seconds. “Fast, flexible loans” was displayed in white writing on a yellow background whereas the RAPR was in the same size font, in white text, but on a black background in a prominent, stationary black footer and was held on screen for a total of 13 seconds. Accordingly, Sunny believed the RAPR was no less prominent than the trigger wording and therefore met CONC requirements. Notwithstanding that, they did not consider that the statement “Checking if you’re eligible for a Sunny loan won’t affect your credit score” triggered the need to display the RAPR. They also believed that the RAPR met CONC requirements in relation to that statement. They said that the statement was voiced for four seconds while the RAPR was displayed on screen for 13 seconds of the 30-second ad. The statement was voiced against background music while the RAPR was displayed in large white font on a black background with no other legal superimposed text being displayed with it.
Clearcast said that, in their view, the ad did not include any incentives to get credit, and the RAPR had been included for consumer information rather than in response to CONC requirements. Clearcast had received an assurance form from Sunny’s legal counsel stating that the ad was in compliance with consumer credit advertising regulations. They understood that the reference to a “soft” credit search in the ad was merely a statement of fact, rather than a comparison or incentive that would amount to a trigger for the inclusion of the RAPR.
Although not required, they noted that the RAPR information placed in the ad was two lines larger than the requirement for text on a solid background. The text was larger than the text in the right-hand corner, stating “loans from £100” and so more prominent. There was no other legal superimposed text at the time that could potentially obscure the information. The RAPR information was held on screen for nearly half the duration of the entire ad. With that in mind, Clearcast considered that if the statement “Checking if you’re eligible for a Sunny loan won’t affect your credit score” was held to be an RAPR trigger, the prominence of the RAPR was adequate.
The ASA consulted the FCA on the application of the relevant CONC rules and guidance relating to the inclusion of a RAPR. We noted that CONC rule 3.5.7 (1) (c) and (2) stated that an ad must include an RAPR if it included, amongst other elements, an incentive to apply for credit and that the RAPR must be given no less prominence than the incentive to apply for credit. The claim “Checking if you're eligible for a Sunny loan won't affect your credit score” was likely to be understood by viewers as an inducement to initiate a process that was necessary before applying for credit. We considered it was an incentive to apply for credit as outlined in CONC rule 3.5.7 (1) (c). As such, the ad was required to include an RAPR with no less prominence than the incentive to apply for credit. The ad was 30 seconds long. The claim “Checking if you're eligible for a Sunny loan won't affect your credit score” was spoken for three seconds. The RAPR appeared in on-screen text for 13 seconds and was presented in clear, legible white text on a black background. In the context of the ad, we considered that the RAPR was no less prominent than the incentive to apply for credit. We concluded, therefore, that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 14.11 (Financial products, services and investments), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.