Summary of Council decision
Two issues investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A YouTube pre-roll ad for lead generation service CleverKeith, seen between October 2021 and January 2022, featured a video that showed a person checking their current account balance online, which displayed a sum of £237,578. That was followed by a scene of a person checking their current account balance at an automated telling machine (ATM), which also displayed an available balance of £237,578. The person then received a printed balance statement from the ATM that featured the same balance as that displayed on the screen.
A voice-over accompanying the video stated, “If you’re a British dad aged 35-45 and don’t have life insurance, I want you to know about this. So, some of you will probably be shocked by this but as you can see, my current bank balance is over £237,000. The reason it’s so high is because yesterday our family received our protection payment. Now, we’re not the only ones. Thousands of parents without life insurance have been getting this protection for their families too. As you can see, this is a huge amount of money, so it’s going to make a massive difference to our lives … Click the button to see if you could get this protection too.” A button below the video took consumers to CleverKeith’s website.
The ASA received two complaints, both of whom challenged whether the ad:
1. was misleading, because they considered it misrepresented a life insurance policy as a money-making scheme; and
2. falsely implied that the marketer was acting for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession.
1. Stillbloom Ltd t/a CleverKeith said they believed the terms “protection” and “life insurance” were generally used interchangeably, and that consumers would understand the ad’s use of the former as reference to the latter. Furthermore, consumers would understand that life insurance policies only paid out in the event of the subject’s death.
They said the ad featured a link to their website which stated that the figure of £237,578 presented on-screen, and in the voice-over, was the level of life insurance cover available from an insurance company to healthy, male, non-smokers through one of their brokers on 9 April 2021. They believed use of the phrase “Click the button to see if you could get this protection too” was neither a stated nor implied claim that by clicking through to CleverKeith’s website consumers could qualify for the product offered. They said that while the age group stated in the ad, 35- to 45- year olds, were less likely to die than individuals in older age groups, that was offset by comparatively lower premiums.
2. CleverKeith said the ad only directed consumers to their website and did not give the impression they would advise consumers on how to receive a “protection payment”. They said their website footer made clear their status as a lead generation service.
We considered consumers would understand from the ad that by contacting CleverKeith, via the website linked under the video, they would be able to obtain advice on how to receive a protection payment, and that the figure of £237,578 shown in the ad was indicative of the amount they could receive as a payment. We considered consumers would understand from the ad’s references to “If you’re a British dad aged 35?45 and don’t have life insurance” and “Thousands of parents without life insurance have been getting this protection for their families too” that “protection” was an alternative to life insurance.
We understood that CleverKeith, once contacted through the online form on their website, would only pass consumers’ details on to third-party insurance brokers, after which consumers would be offered a life insurance policy. We had not seen evidence that consumers could obtain the figure shown in the ad, and considered the claims misrepresented life insurance as a way of obtaining a large sum of money in the form of a “protection payment”. We also considered that the ad exaggerated the benefit to the group mentioned, i.e. males aged 35-45, who we understood were less likely to be able to benefit from the policy being offered. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
On that point, 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 CAP Code stated that marketing communications must not falsely claim or imply that the marketer was acting for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession. It further stated that marketing communications must make clear their commercial intent if that was not obvious from the context.
We considered that the ad presented itself as a service that could help consumers obtain some form of “protection payment”, particularly the statement “Click the button to see if you could get this protection too” at the end of the voice-over. However, CleverKeith confirmed that they did not help consumers obtain payments of that kind, and that they only passed consumers’ details onto insurance brokers. We therefore understood that CleverKeith were a lead generation company that would pass on consumers’ details to insurance brokers and financial advisors. We considered that information was not mentioned or made sufficiently clear in the ad.
We concluded that the ad falsely implied that CleverKeith was acting for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession, and did not make clear its commercial intent, and therefore breached the Code.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 2.3 2.3 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 communications).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Stillbloom Ltd t/a CleverKeith to ensure that their future marketing communications did not misrepresent life insurance as a money-making scheme, and to make clear that they passed on enquirers’ details to third parties and did not provide advice themselves. We also told them not to claim or imply that they were acting for purposes outside their trade or business and to make clear the commercial intent of their marketing.