A website for 121 Web Design & Stuff, www.1-to-1.org.uk, seen in January 2017 stated that 121 had won “Best Low Cost Web Design Company - Web Design Review Awards” in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The complainant, who understood that Web Design Review was owned by the same company as 121 Web Design & Stuff and was therefore not impartial or independent, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Purple Cloud Group Ltd trading as 121 Web Design & Stuff said they understood that the ad as it appeared might be misleading and offered to make a change to the text. 121 Web Design & Stuff said they did not believe there was anything wrong with creating a site to rate their businesses.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claims that 121 Web Design & Stuff had won the Web Design Review Awards to mean they had received awards from an independent, impartial body. We considered that consumers would generally expect that to be the case when awards were referenced. We understood that the awarding body, WebDesignReview.co.uk was part of the same group of companies as 121 Web Design & Stuff, and noted that the Web Design Review Awards were only awarded to companies linked to 121 Web Design & Stuff. We therefore considered that the awards had not been received from an independent and impartial body. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad 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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told 121 Web Design & Stuff not to imply they had received awards from an independent, impartial body.