Websites for the charity Jole Rider, seen in July 2016, made various claims about the organisation’s programmes.
a. The “About” page of www.jolerider.org stated "jole rider is an education organisation and registered charity, making positive changes by directly affecting the lives of children. We do this through our education programmes: providing bicycles to enable African children to get to school; teaching bike maintenance skills to increase capacity and confidence; providing books and education resources to offer children more opportunities to learn".
b. A linked website for the charity’s Bike Skills Academy www.bike-skills-academy.net, stated “We also have a Bike Skills Academy in The Gambia. Local people become trained as mechanics at the Bike Skills Academy”.
A former employee of the charity challenged whether the claims about Jole Rider’s activities in Africa in ads (a) and (b) were misleading and could be substantiated, because they understood that the charity had closed its only African operation, in the Gambia, in January 2016 and had not shipped donated bikes there since 2014.
Jole Rider stated that their partners were all happy with their work and messaging. They said that the charity was set up and continued to exist in order to provide bikes to schools in Africa so that children could reach their education. They stated that they were undertaking an in-depth review of their website and would remove any inaccurate information as soon as they had the resources in place to do so.
The ASA noted that the claims made in ads (a) and (b) describing the charity’s activities were stated in the present tense. We considered that viewers of the website would understand that Jole Rider was currently engaged in providing those services and that any donations they received would go towards supporting them. We acknowledged Jole Rider’s willingness to make changes to their website. However, we noted that they had only provided a general assurance that they would remove inaccurate information and had not responded to our requests for a more specific indication of the claims they were willing to remove. As we had not seen evidence to substantiate the claims about the charity’s operations in Africa, we concluded that the claims were misleading.
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
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) 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 Jole Rider Friends to ensure they did not make objective claims about their charity’s operations unless they held sufficient evidence to substantiate them.