Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both were Upheld.
Claims on www.liveandunsigneduk.com, a website promoting a battle of the bands competition, stated "The Live and Unsigned Grand National Final is incorporated into Live Fest, London's largest indoor Festival. Live Fest is an all day festival at The O2 in London, packed full of entertainment and will play host to an eclectic mix of artists - including Rock, Indie, Pop/Acoustic/Urban and Alternative, so it's packed with music for everyone! This year's festival will take place at Proud2 on Saturday 14th July. LONDON'S LARGEST INDOOR FESTIVAL. With some of the hottest acts from the UK music scene performing, as well as the best unsigned acts from across the country, this is the festival for those who love great music but want to avoid the mud this summer! Programming will be spread over various stages within the famous London O2, with the Live and Unsigned Grand Final at the glamorous Proud2, Live Fest has a huge variety of music genres to suit any tastes - so whether you're into urban beats or rock, pop and hardcore, this is the festival for you! ..."
The website also featured a photo of Noddy Holder alongside text stating "The Judges. Noddy Holder. It's Nooodddddy!".
1. Two complainants challenged whether the claims "The Live and Unsigned Grand National Final is incorporated into Live Fest, London's largest indoor Festival", "This year's festival will take place at Proud2 on Saturday 14th July", "With some of the hottest acts from the UK music scene performing" and "Programming will be spread over various stages within the famous O2" were misleading and could be substantiated, because the complainants understood that the Live and Unsigned Final was not part of Live Fest.
2. One of the complainants challenged whether the claim that Noddy Holder was one of the judges for the Final was misleading.
1. Live And Unsigned Ltd (LU) explained that Live Fest was a collective name for the event as there was more than just the Live And Unsigned Grand final taking place that day. They said Live Fest was not cancelled and explained that it was not promoted to the same extent as the previous year as it was not able to confirm being a multi-venue event. They said in 2011 it was at the Indigo and Proud 2 venues at the O2 arena in London. However, this year they had programming across two stages in the Proud 2 venue with the main stage showing the Live And Unsigned final and a second stage showing guest judges and DJ's perform.
Tickets for this year's competition final were similar to those for last year's final in that they did not contain Live Fest branding. Tickets for this year's event allowed entrants to access the DJ stage and a roof terrace as well as the Live And Unsigned final. LU provided a copy of the tickets for the event, together with a copy of a newsletter sent to competition entrants who had made it through to the final. They said this newsletter was sent out before any tickets had been sold for the event. The newsletter stated "Congratulations on making it through to The Live & Unsigned National Grand Final at The O2 on Saturday 14th July at Proud2 ... in addition to the main room with all the best unsigned acts from across the country and special guest performances there will be a second room with judges and guest DJs performing and a third area outside in the summer terrace which is hoped to have an acoustic stage. For all attending you will be allowed to enter freely the Proud2 venue and experience the many other attractions at The O2 .... ".
2. LU said their website did not state that Noddy Holder was judging the competition this year. They said the only reference to Noddy Holder on their website was on the judges page which clearly listed and underlined judges past and present. The page included reference to Malcolm Mclaren who was deceased. The judges page stated "Live and Unsigned's judging panel is constantly expanding, we are always adding new and exciting names to the list. Here are some of our past and present judges who have judged Live and Unsigned over the years." This was followed by a list of judges and their photographs, including Noddy Holder.
The ASA understood that Live Fest was a music festival which featured well-known artists and DJs. We understood that last year it had taken place on 23 July across several venues within The O2 in London (specifically Proud2, Indig02, and Inc Club) and had featured artists such as Tinchy Stryder and The Hoosiers and the radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. In 2011 the Live And Unsigned grand final had taken place at the Proud2 venue within The O2 on the same day as Live Fest and had therefore been incorporated into the festival.
We understood that Live Fest had its own website and there was no mention on that website of a Live Fest taking place on 14 July 2012, which was the date of this year's Live And Unsigned grand final.
We noted LU's comment that Live Fest had not been cancelled this year but rather it had not been promoted to the same extent as the previous year. We noted that the ticket for the Live And Unsigned grand final and the newsletter sent to those acts who had made it through to this year's final did not mention Live Fest. We also noted that one of the complainants had e-mailed LU at the end of June 2012, approximately three weeks before the event, to ask when the Live Fest line-up was going to be announced and was told that Live Fest could only take place when there was more than one venue available at The O2 and because of the Olympics this year, it was not going to be possible.
We understood that subsequent to the complaint being made, LU had amended their website and had removed the claims. We asked LU to provide evidence to show that at the time the claims were made, the Live Fest event had been confirmed for 14 July 2012 but they did not provide any such evidence.
Because we had not seen evidence to support the claims "The Live and Unsigned Grand National Final is incorporated into Live Fest, London's largest indoor Festival", "This year's festival will take place at Proud2 on Saturday 14th July", "With some of the hottest acts from the UK music scene performing" and "Programming will be spread over various stages within the famous O2" we considered they had not been substantiated and were misleading.
On this point, the claims 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).
We noted LU's comment that the website did not explicitly state that Noddy Holder was going to be a judge in this year's competition. We also noted that the page which featured past and present judges did not distinguish between which judges were past and which were present. In any event, we considered that because the claim and image appeared in the section of the website about the 2012 final and did not make clear that Mr Holder was a past judge, consumers were likely to infer that he was a judge in this year's competition. We therefore concluded that the claim and image were misleading.
On this point, the claim and image breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The claims must not appear again in their current form. We advised Live And Unsigned to contact the CAP Copy Advice team for guidance on advertising future competitions.