Ad description

An advertorial for the bar No.1 Watson Street, seen on the lifestyle magazine website for Manchester Confidential,, on 15 December 2016, promoted the bar’s features and services.


The complainant, who understood the article was paid-for content, challenged whether the ad was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.


No.1 Watson Street said they included the word “Promotion” at the top of the article, which they believed meant it was identifiable as an ad.

They said Manchester Confidential was identifiable as a marketing and promotions

company and that consumers knew what they read in it was marketing content. They said they had provided material for Manchester Confidential to write their article.

The publisher Manchester Confidential, explained that they discussed the article with No.1 Watson Street, including which areas of the business they wanted to promote. They had instructed copywriters to write an advertorial based on No.1 Watson Street’s requirements before getting final sign-off from No.1 Watson Street. They said they made clear it was an advertisement feature by labelling it “Promotion” at the top right-hand side of the article.



We noted that while Manchester Confidential included advertorials on bars, restaurants and other local amenities they also published other editorial content on their website including news and comment. We, therefore, considered that consumers would not be able to distinguish the website as purely marketing and would not recognise the advertorial as an ad unless it was clearly identified as such.

The ASA noted that the advertorial included the word "Promotion" at the top of its web page in grey text towards the right side of the advertorial, below the main image of the venue and next to the advertising that appeared down the right-hand side of the page, while the advertorial itself was left justified and in black text. We considered that the design choice meant the word "Promotion" did not appear prominently and would be overlooked by many readers. We considered those who saw it would understand that a financial arrangement was in place but that the word "promotion" alone was insufficient to identify the content specifically as an ad (as opposed to, for example, material that had been financially sponsored, but over which Manchester Confidential retained editorial control). We, therefore, concluded that the ad was not obviously identifiable as such and that it breached the Code.

The ad breached CAP code (Edition 12) rule  2.1 2.1 Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such.  and  2.4 2.4 Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them "advertisement feature".  (Recognition of marketing



The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told No.1 Watson Street and

Manchester Confidential to ensure ads were obviously identifiable as marketing

communications in future.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

2.1     2.4    

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