A Google sponsored search result, promoting www.driver-theory-test.co.uk, stated "£31 Official Theory Test - Gov UK Includes Free Retests - www.driver-theory-test.co.uk/Gov-UK - Book Your Official Theory Test - Car Theory Test - Motor Cycle Theory test - Large Goods Theory Test".
Two complainants challenged whether the use of "Gov UK" was misleading, because it suggested that the advertiser was affiliated with the UK Government or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
TAD services t/a driver-theory-test.co.uk said that the ad had been removed and that they no longer placed Google sponsored ads.
The ASA noted that the ad included two references to "Gov UK", one of which appeared at the end of the stated URL. We noted that the actual site URL was www.driver-theory-test.co.uk and did not include the suffix "Gov.UK" or "Gov-UK". We understood that usually the use of "Gov.UK" in a URL designated that the website was an official UK government site. Therefore, although we acknowledged that the URL stated "Gov-UK" as opposed to "Gov.uk", we considered that most consumers viewing the ad would believe that the site was provided by a government department, as opposed to a private, commercial company, and could proceed to click on the link and book their test, believing they were booking it via the DVSA. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the use of "Gov UK" within the sponsored search result, and particularly the use of "Gov-UK" in the stated URL, were 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), 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) and 3.43 3.43 Marketing communications must not take unfair advantage of the reputation of a competitor's trade mark, trade name or other distinguishing mark or of the designation of origin of a competing product. (Imitation and denigration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We welcomed the fact the ad had been withdrawn, but told driver-theory-test.co.uk not to use "Gov UK" in their ads in future, because it implied an affiliation to the government or DVSA.