A job ad posted by Pioneer Initiatives on Reed.co.uk was headed "Marketing Trainees - Graduates Welcome - Immediate Start". Further text stated "£15,000 - £20,000 per annum, negotiable, OTE ... Job type: Permanent, full-time ... Pioneer Initiatives are looking for 5+ people who have a passion for Marketing, sales, customer service or have previous or relevant experience in any front facing role. If you're looking to kick-start your marketing career then this could be the opportunity for you! Based in the heart of Leeds City Centre Pioneer Initiatives work alongside International brands and clients, creating brand awareness, generating sales, create new customers, engaging new clients whilst sustaining current ones this is what Pioneer Initiatives do best ... Pioneer Initiatives are looking for the following qualities: Phenomenal Customer Service skill; Be able to handle customer/client queries in a professional manner; Be of smart appearance; Be able to work independently but also be part of a team environment ... Can commute to Leeds City centre on a daily basis ... Since we operate in a performance-based industry, earnings and growth opportunities are also completely performance-based. Beginners tend to earn £250-300 per week, and more experienced representatives tend to earn £350-550 per week."
The complainant, who had responded to the ad and attended an interview, challenged whether the ad was misleading, because it did not make clear that the position was for self-employed door-to-door sales.
Pioneer Initiatives (PI) said the roles were for direct marketing positions, some of which involved door-to-door sales and others which involved in-store promotions and events and, because the ad was aimed at attracting candidates for both, they had not specified that the role was for door-to-door sales. They told us candidates found out the nature of the role during an observational day in the field after a manager had decided which area they were better suited to. They acknowledged that the roles were self-employed but told us that the template on Reed.co.uk did not allow them to select self-employed as an option and therefore they stated that the roles were permanent because this tended to attract people who were looking for a long-term trade relationship.
The ASA noted PI had placed the ad intending to attract candidates for in-store promotions and events, as well as for door-to-door sales positions, and that the ad stated that earnings were entirely performance-based. However, we considered that PI should have explicitly stated that they were recruiting for self-employed opportunities carrying out door-to-door sales or taking part in in-store promotions, to ensure that candidates were not misled. We were concerned that the overall impression given by the ad was that the roles were permanent marketing positions in Leeds city centre and, because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
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) and 20.1 20.1 Marketing communications must distinguish clearly between offers of employment and business opportunities. Before publication, media owners normally require marketers' full details and any terms and conditions imposed on respondents. (Employment).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told PI to ensure that they explicitly stated the nature of any advertised opportunities in future.