An ad in The Jewish Chronicle for a property development, in June 2011, was headlined "Vineyard View EFRAT New Neighbourhood in Dekel UNIQUE DEVLEOPMENT OF 26 NEW HOUSES". The ad featured aerial photos of the development and bullet pointed text listed the features of the development, including "Independent Group Purchase ... Israeli finance subject to status".
Text in the bottom half of the ad, underneath the heading "Why use I.L.A.N?" stated "With our network of experienced agents across Israel, covering major locations such as Bet Shemesh / Ramat Bet Shemesh, Efrat, Hashmonaim, Herzliya, Jerusalem, Netanya, Modiin, Ra’anana, Rechovot, Tel Aviv, Yad Binyamin, Zichron Yaakov & more ... We strive to adhere to the highest standards you would like to receive from an experienced real estate consultant to help you cope with the hurdles of the Israeli property market and business environment ... We put you in contact with English speaking professionals, to help you make your home in Israel experience a little bit less stressful incl Mortgages, Insurance, Legal, Interior Design, Architects & a Building Surveyor ... With our negotiating skills, creativity & ‘holding your hand’ we will navigate you through the process of buying in Israel. If you have a property in Israel that you would like to sell, we provide a unique blend of local, national & international marketing ... Visit the I.L.A.N. stand at the Israel Property Expo on Sunday 26th June". The ad included the logo for Israel Business Brokers (IBB).
The complainant challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that the development in Efrat in Dekel was in Israel, whereas he understood it was a settlement in the occupied West Bank.
ILAN Real Estate (ILAN) did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by ILAN’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We considered that the references in the ad to ILAN’s experienced agents across Israel, the help they offered in negotiating the Israeli property market and making house buying in Israel less stressful, and the list of major locations in Israel ILAN covered, as well as to the Israel Property Expo, Israeli finance and buying a property in Israel, strongly implied that the development in Efrat in Dekel was in Israel. We noted that we had not seen evidence that that was the case, and understood that Efrat and Dekel were located in the occupied West Bank. We considered that the fact that the development in Efrat in Dekel was in the West Bank, in territory not internationally recognised as part of Israel, was likely to be highly material to consumers and that the omission of the information rendered the ad misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition12) rules
Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code.
(Unreasonable delay) and
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told ILAN to avoid in future similar ads misleading as to the location of property developments. We asked CAP to inform its members of the problem with ILAN Real Estate.