Two websites and two social media pages for the sale of gold bullion:
a. An ad on the advertiser's own website www.bullionbypost.co.uk included the text "BullionByPost ... the UK's No.1 Online Bullion Dealer.,
b. The advertiser's listing on the directory section of a website relating to Birmingham's' jewellery quarter included the text "Bullion by Post is the UK's leading bullion dealer".
c. The advertiser's Facebook page including the text "BullionByPost ... The UK's No.1 Bullion Dealer".
d. The advertiser's Twitter page included the text "BullionByPost are the UK's No.1 Bullion Dealers".
Baird & Co Ltd challenged whether the claim "UK's No.1 Online Bullion Dealer" in ads (a), (c) and (d) and the claim "the UK's leading bullion dealer" in ad (b) were misleading and could be substantiated, because they believed the advertiser did not have a market-leading turnover.
Jewellery Quarter Bullion Ltd (BullionByPost) said that all of the ads should have stated "UK's No.1 Online Bullion Dealer" and that the Facebook and Twitter ads had been amended to make this clear. They said the amount of online traffic/market share supported claims that they were the UK's No.1 and stated that Experian Hitwise had given them their UK's No.1 Bullion dealer award. They said the award was based on a comparison of in excess of 60 bullion websites, including the website belonging to the complainant (Baird & Co), along with a host of other websites which also finished above the complainant in the rankings. They provided a screen-shot of the award taken from their own website along with evidence that it had been awarded by Experian Hitwise based on the number of visits on its website (compared to other online bullion providers) over a 12-month period.
They said they accepted that Baird & Co were a larger business when measured purely by turnover, but said their claim was very specifically in relation to online activity.
The ASA noted Jewellery Quarter Bullion Ltd had intended all of their marketing claims to state that they were the UK's "No.1 Online Bullion Dealer" and that they had made the relevant changes to the Facebook and Twitter pages to ensure the claim was consistent across all media. We noted the website, BullionbyPost, had been awarded an Experian Hitwise award for 'UK's No.1 Bullion Dealer website (based on UK internet visits)' and that it related to dates from April 2012 to March 2013. Supporting evidence demonstrated that that BullionByPost had received more visits to its website during that period than other online bullion providers. Although the award symbol was included on the advertisers own website (a), ads (b), (c) and (d) did not include an image or a reference to that award and none of the ads indicated the period over which the award related. We considered that, without clear qualification to indicate that the claim related to the comparative number of website visits over a specific period, consumers would understand the claims "The UK's No.1 Online Bullion Dealer" and "UK's No.1 Bullion dealer" to mean that BullionByPost had bought and sold more gold than any other online bullion dealers and therefore had a larger market share than those competitors. Because evidence was not supplied to demonstrate that BullionbyPost had a larger market share (by sales) we considered that the claims had not been substantiated and concluded that the ads were misleading.
Ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 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), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification), 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
Ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) should not appear again in their current form. We told Jewellery Quarter Bullion to ensure future ads made clear the No.1 claim was in relation to the number of hits to the website.