Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A press ad in the "business opportunities" section of a national newspaper, and claims on two websites:
a. The press ad stated, "HOW TO EARN £5,000+ DAILY! Internet MILLIONAIRE Reveals Secrets for FREE! www.GetMegaRich.com".
b. Claims on several pages of www.getmegarich.com. Text on one page stated, "100% Make Money Daily ... If You Can Click A Mouse You Will Make Money ... No Selling or Sponsoring Required. Impossible Not To Make Money! ... Make Money in the Next Hour Guaranteed!". Text on another page stated, "How To EARN £1,000+ DAILY! ... Get Paid up to 72 times DAILY! Get PAID Every 20 Minutes! NO SELLING! NO RECRUITING! NO SPONSORING! ... It's IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO MAKE MONEY WITHIN THE HOUR THEN EVERY 20 minutes 7 days per week GUARANTEED!!! ... IT'S TIME TO FINALLY TAKE A STAND And Start Living The Life You've Always Dreamed Of".
c. Claims on several pages of www.addicted2map.com. Text within a video on one page stated, "Get Paid Every 20 Minutes! ... If YOU Can Click a Mouse YOU Can Get Paid up to 72 times a day!". Text within a video on another page stated, "click on 10 Ads Daily ... This qualifies you to earn up to 72 payouts every day until you've $60 in return". Text within a video on a third page stated, "Click 10 ads Per Day Earn Profit Share (Paid every 20 Minutes)".
Three complainants challenged whether:
1. the earnings claims in ads (a), (b) and (c) were misleading and could be substantiated; and
2. the claim "no selling" in ad (b) was misleading and could be substantiated.
Simon Stepsys Success International Ltd said the ads were designed to generate interest in an affiliate programme, and that there was no personal selling required to make money. They said that the My Advertising Pays (MAP) programme shared its profits every 20 minutes with all members who had purchased a 'Credit Pack' and clicked on ten sites in the MAP Traffic Exchange.
They said that members earned money either by participating in their free referral programme or through profit-sharing by purchasing one or more Credit Packs. Each Credit Pack qualified members for a share in the profits. Members had to click on ten ads each day in the Traffic Exchange to qualify for profit-shares that day. They said that consumers did not have to purchase credit packs, nor recruit or sponsor others to earn. They told us that they would remove the ads.
The ASA noted that a number of claims in the ads suggested that significant amounts of money could be made. For example, "Internet MILLIONAIRE Reveals Secrets for FREE", and the web address "www.GetMegaRich.com" in ad (a) and "Start Living The Life You've Always Dreamed Of" in ad (b). In addition, ad (b) "guaranteed" that consumers would make money, and stated that it was impossible not to do so. Ads (b) and (c) both included claims that consumers would get paid every 20 minutes, and 72 times a day, and we considered that those claims, as well as claims such as "If you can click a mouse you can make money" in ad (b) suggested that money could be made easily.
Ad (a) specifically claimed that consumers could earn "£5,000+" daily and ad (b) claimed that they could earn "£1000+ DAILY". Therefore, we needed to see evidence that showed that respondents could routinely expect to earn that amount of money. However, we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that consumers would earn any money. Because Simon Stepsys had not provided any evidence to substantiate the claims, we concluded that they were misleading and had breached the Code.
On that point, the ads 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).
We noted Simon Stepsys' assertion that no personal selling was required to make money. However, we noted that the My Advertising Pays website stated that it offered an "opportunity that rewards you for selling cost-effective online advertisements" and that results would vary depending on the "sales skills of each participant".
We considered that consumers would understand from ad (b) that no selling would be involved. Because we understood that selling was involved, and because we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading and had breached the Code.
On that point, ad (b) 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 ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Simon Stepsys Success International Ltd to ensure that they did not make earnings claims unless they could be substantiated, and not to claim that selling was not involved in an opportunity if that was not the case.