A clothing collection bag delivered to the complainant’s home was headlined “Cancer Research & Genetics UK” on both sides and also included the “Charity Ref No.”. Text on one side of the bag provided the collection details and stated “Please HELP us to raise funds for Cancer Research & Genetics UK”. Text on the other side stated “Fundraises to further our campaign to raise awareness of cancer and its genetics links in UK and Europe. Help us by donating ...” and listed the items they would accept. Additional smaller text on the right-hand side stated “Recycle Proline Ltd is a commercial company which collects second hand clothing and donate [sic] at least £3200 per month to Cancer Research & Genetics UK from the proceeds of sale …”.
The complainant challenged whether the presentation of the ad was misleading, because it did not make sufficiently clear the commercial nature of the business given the prominence of the charity message.
Investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules: 2.3 (Recognition of marketing materials), 3.1 & 3.3 (Misleading advertising)
Recycle Proline Ltd stated that they had made changes to the design of their clothing collection bags following a previous complaint to the ASA. As such, they felt that they had already sufficiently addressed any potentially misleading aspects of the ad. They believed that the new complaint was without merit and expressed concerns that making further amendments could have a detrimental impact on their business.
The ASA acknowledged that Recycle Proline had made amendments to their ad in response to a previous complaint, namely by adding the clarification that they are a commercial company that donates a portion of its profits to charity. However, we noted that there was no mention of the advertiser’s name or company status on the front of the bag, which was likely to have the greatest impact on recipients. We also noted that, overall, the charity name and registration number were given more prominence than the details of the company undertaking the collection. We considered that this was likely to give consumers the misleading impression that they were donating directly to the charity.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules:
Marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer is acting as a consumer or for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession; marketing communications must make clear their commercial intent, if that is not obvious from the context.
(Recognition of marketing materials),
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising)
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Recycle Proline Ltd to ensure that their ads made clear to consumers that they were a commercial company and that recipients were not donating directly to a charity.