Two sponsored search engine results for Highland Titles Ltd:
a. A Yahoo result stated "Buy A Plot in Glencoe - Help Conserve Scottish Landscape".
b. A Dogpile result stated "Buy A Plot in Glencoe - Surprise & Impress Your Friends".
The complainant challenged whether the claims "Buy a plot of Glencoe" was misleading and could be substantiated because they understood the plots were located in Glencoe Wood, which was located neither in the village of Glencoe nor in the vicinity of the area known as Glencoe.
Highland Titles confirmed the plots were situated in an area of land which they owned and which they had named "Glencoe Wood". They said that as far as they had been aware, they had removed all of their sponsored advertising through Google and Bing which referred to "buying a plot in Glencoe". They explained that they were the two channels through which they advertised. However, after they had been notified of the complaint, they subsequently became aware that the founder of the company had opened an advertising account with Yahoo!, for which the founder had paid privately. They believed the ad complained about had appeared as a result of that advertising account.
The ASA understood the plots of land offered by Highland Titles were located in a wooded area owned by them called Glencoe Wood. We considered the claim "Buy A Plot in Glencoe" implied to consumers that the plots were located in the village of Glencoe or in the area widely known as Glencoe. Because we considered the location of the plots had not been made sufficiently clear, we considered the simple reference to "Glencoe" was ambiguous and could cause confusion about the actual location of the plots.
We acknowledged that Highland Titles had taken steps previously to remove ads which referred to buying a plot of land in Glencoe. Nevertheless, we considered they should have taken greater care to ensure that all advertising which simply referred to "Glencoe" had been withdrawn. Because the ads stated consumers could buy a plot of land in Glencoe and we understood that was not the case, we concluded the ads were misleading and could not be substantiated.
The ads breached 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).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Highland Titles to ensure future ads stated plots of land were located in Glencoe Wood, and not to imply they were in the areas known as "Glencoe". We told them also to take care to ensure that ads which simply referred to "Glencoe" were removed from all advertising platforms.