An ad in a content discovery network and a website for Savvy Finances, seen on 29 May 2019:
a. The content discovery network ad, seen on the Evening Standard newspaper website, featured an image of an elderly man and woman. Text beneath stated “People Born Before 1959 Can Dodge Funeral Costs (Do You Qualify?).
b. The website, www.savvyfinances.co.uk, which was linked to from ad (a), featured an article entitled “UK Pensions Surprised at Rapidly Rising Costs of Funerals… Here’s How They’re Saving Thousands. And it’s easier than you’d think!”. The article offered links to obtain a free quote for a funeral plan through Funeral Planning
1. The complainant, who understood that ad (a) related to an offer for a funeral plan, challenged whether it misleadingly implied consumers could avoid funeral costs.
2. The ASA challenged whether ads (a) and (b) falsely implied that the marketer was acting for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession and did not make clear their commercial intent.
Person(s) unknown t/a Savvy Finances did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Savvy Finances’ lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claim “People Born Before 1959 Can Dodge Funeral Costs (Do You Qualify?)” in ad (a) that subject to certain qualifying criteria, they could avoid the cost of a funeral through the advertised service. We had not seen full details of the advertised funeral plan, such as the qualifying criteria or the terms and conditions. We understood that rather than finding out whether they fulfilled the qualifying criteria for the advertised funeral plans and obtaining a quote, consumers were sent to a website for FuneralPlanning, which contained the text “Pre-Paid Funeral Plans With No Health Checks” and “Search for competitive funeral plan quotes”. The page featured the logos of a range of businesses, such as Capital Life, Peace of Mind Funeral Plans, Corporate and Late Life Planning, many of whose logos very closely resembled those of well-known funeral plan providers. It therefore appeared that consumers did not have to fulfil certain criteria in order to qualify to avoid funeral costs through Savvy Finances. They were, however, sent to a website which appeared to begin the process of allowing consumers to generate a quote for a funeral plan through a range of providers, which would have a cost associated with it. For that reason, and because we had been provided with no evidence that consumers could avoid funeral costs through Savvy Finances, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
On that point, ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer was acting for purposes outside its trade, craft or profession and should make clear the commercial intent if that was not obvious from the context.
As above, we considered that consumers would understand from ad (a) that subject to certain qualifying criteria, they might qualify to avoid funeral costs. The headline claim “UK Pensioners Surprised at Rapidly Rising Cost of Funerals…Here’s How They’re Saving Thousands” and accompanying text which stated “And it’s easier than you’d think!” in ad (b) was seen in between two images which stated “To get started select your age and get your free quote” and asked consumers to choose between various age ranges. The body text in the ad began with “Would you like to protect your loved ones from the financial and emotional burden of planning and paying for your funeral? For less than £5 a week, you can do just that with a Funeral Policy”. We considered, in that context, that by clicking the links, consumers would expect to begin the process of generating a personalised funeral plan which would allow them to avoid funeral costs. However, the ads in fact linked through to a website for FuneralPlanning. The website required consumers to input their personal information, such as their full name, date of birth, email address and telephone number and stated “Submitting your details will allow us to contact you via call, SMS and email to talk about your comparison options”. It therefore appeared that rather than being prepared a tailored plan, Savvy Finances were principally a lead generating company that facilitated the passing of consumers’ personal information to other businesses in order to be contacted by them, rather than a company offering consumers a specific funeral policy.
Because the ads were principally for a lead generating company and that was not made clear, we concluded that Savvy Finances falsely implied they were acting for purposes outside of their trade and therefore breached the Code.
On that point, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 2.3 (Recognition of marketing communications).
The ads must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Savvy Finances to ensure their future ads did not claim they provided funeral plans which allowed consumers to avoid funeral costs unless that was the case. We also told them not to imply they were acting for purposes outside of their trade. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.