Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, one of which was Upheld and one Not upheld.
A web page on the Guardian Recruiters website, aimed at recruiters, seen on www.theguardian.com in November 2016, described the charity professionals audience for the Guardian Jobs website. The web page stated “36% of Guardian Jobs users have not used charityjob.co.uk”. Smaller text beneath this stated “Source: Guardian Connecting Professionals 2015”. Further text stated “4x as many charity readers as charityjob.co.uk”. Smaller text below this stated “Source: Guardian Connecting Professionals 2015, GPN member data 2015, Comscore 2015”.
JobLadder Ltd, which owned charityjob.co.uk (CharityJob), challenged whether:
1. the claim “36% of Guardian Jobs users have not used charityjob.co.uk” was misleading and could be substantiated; and
2. the comparison was verifiable.
1. Guardian News and Media Ltd stated that the data supporting the claim was taken from a survey entitled “Guardian Connecting Professionals Research”, which was conducted in 2014 and released in 2015. Users of the Guardian Jobs website were asked to complete surveys, resulting in 2,509 completed surveys. As part of the survey, users were asked “In which industry sector does your current or most recent employer operate?”; 318 (12.7%) of those who took the survey answered “Charity/Voluntary sector”. Those 318 users were asked if they had used www.charityjob.co.uk in their current job hunt; 64.5% reported that they had, leaving 35.53% of Guardian Jobs users in the charity sector who had not answered “yes” to using www.charityjob.co.uk. They considered it was permissible to round that figure up to 36%. Therefore they did not believe that the claim was misleading.
Guardian News and Media Ltd stated that they had conducted a further survey in 2016 which showed that, by the same calculation, 31% of Guardian Jobs users had not used www.charityjob.co.uk. They had therefore updated the website to reflect that figure.
2. Guardian News and Media Ltd did not respond on that point.
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered how recruiters viewing the ad would understand “36% of Guardian Jobs users have not used charityjob.co.uk”. While the claim did not make clear that it referred to 36% of Guardian Jobs users who had specifically used the site to search for jobs in the charity sector, rather than all users, because the comparison was with a website that clearly specialised in advertising those types of jobs, and viewers would interpret the claim in this way. We noted that the survey from which the data was taken had a relatively large sample size, and it was reasonable to conclude that the results were representative of charity sector users of the Guardian Jobs website. We therefore considered that the claim had been substantiated and was not misleading.
On that point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 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), but did not find it in breach.
The CAP Code required comparisons with identifiable competitors to be verifiable. This meant that an ad which featured a comparison with an identifiable competitor or competitors needed to include, or direct a consumer to, sufficient information to allow them to understand the comparison, and be able to check the claims were accurate, or ask someone suitably qualified to do so. While the source from which the data was taken was listed below the claim, no further information on why it was relevant to supporting it had been provided. Furthermore, the source did not appear to be in the public domain. For those reasons, we did not consider that the ad allowed consumers or competitors to verify the comparison and therefore concluded that the claim breached the Code.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.35 3.35 They must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products, which may include price. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
We told Guardian News and Media Ltd to ensure that claims with identifiable competitors made in their advertising were verifiable.