A promotional e-mail, for Model Advice, had the subject title "Don't miss out on Modelling Opportunities". Text in the body of the e-mail stated "We're updating our mailing list ready for Spring … in preparation for castings and modelling opportunities that are coming through Model Advice! Simply fill out the form here to be kept up to date with the latest castings, opportunities and advice … Find out the 10 models who were selected to walk the catwalk for High Street Fashion Week on our Facebook!".
Clive Hurst challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied Model Advice were an employment agency that found work directly for its clients, via castings and modelling opportunities.
Model Advice said they provided a one-stop shop for models, which offered free and paid-for services to ensure models were safe and were professional and prepared for every occasion. They said the service was invaluable for many of the models who contacted them. They were not an agency and said they made that clear on their website and in their interactions and correspondence with clients. Model Advice said they promoted opportunities and protected models and were often approached by companies with modelling opportunities, which they might promote to their client base if they considered the opportunity valuable. They said the opportunities were not for paid work, but allowed for important exposure and networking. That was the case for High Street Fashion Week, which was not paid work, but models taking part supported high street and up-and-coming designers and gained exposure and valuable contacts. They said freelancing was the fastest growing area of modelling opportunity. There were various platforms available which models could now use in order to be seen and promote themselves. In addition, networking was essential to progress. Model Advice said they were passionate about helping models in an unregulated industry and believed their advertising was not misleading.
The ASA noted the ad did not state that the opportunities available through Model Advice were for paid work. We also noted, however, it did not make clear that the opportunities were not paid. We considered the overall impression of the ad, in particular text such as "Don't miss out on Modelling Opportunities", "castings and modelling opportunities", "latest castings, opportunities" and "Find out the 10 models who were selected to walk the catwalk for High Street Fashion Week …", was that the opportunities available included castings, which could lead to paid work, and other paid modelling work. We understood that was not the case and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
(Misleading advertising) and
Employment marketing communications must relate to genuine vacancies and potential employees must not be asked to pay for information.
Living and working conditions must not be misrepresented. Quoted earnings must be precise; if one has to be made, a forecast must not be unrepresentative. If income is earned from a basic salary and commission, commission only or in some other way, that must be made clear. (Employment, homework schemes and business opportunities).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Model Advice to ensure their future advertising did not misleadingly imply opportunities for paid work were available through them if that was not the case.