Background

Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, of which was Upheld and one Not upheld.

Ad description

A paid-for Facebook ad and a landing page on a website, socialblue62.com, for Social Blue seen on 1 June 2021:

a. The paid-for ad on Facebook stated “We’re looking for 100 people from WARRINGTON who want 50% off our revolutionary alarm system”. Text then continued “Click here to find out if a smart home security system is something for you” followed by a link to a landing page for Social Blue, a third-party lead generation company.

b. The landing page on the website stated “We’re looking for 100 people for our revolutionary alarm system”. The text continued “Answer 6 simple questions to find out if your house is eligible for this innovative alarm system and if you’re 1 of the 100 people to receive a 50% discount”. Under that text was a link to start the question process, followed by further text stating “takes less than a minute … This month via Facebook & Instagram only: The first 100 people will receive a 50% discount …”. Starting the questionnaire led to a series of six pages with questions about the potential property the alarm system would be for and the postcode of the person completing the questionnaire.

Issue

1. The complainant, who understood that the promotion was not limited either to 100 people, or to the Warrington area, challenged whether ad (a) breached the Code.

2. The same complainant, who understood that regardless of the information entered into the questionnaire a message stated that their property was eligible for the system, also challenged whether ad (b) breached the Code.

Response

1. Verisure Services (UK) Ltd said that the ad was part of a wider campaign that was offered across multiple regions of the UK, and ran in different locations at the same time, with the 100-person limit relating to specific postcodes for areas they were targeting. Verisure told us that the ad campaign had been created and run by Social Blue, a third-party lead generation company working to guidelines set out by Verisure.

They said that only leads from people who had provided their contact details - and agreed that they were happy for Verisure to contact them - were subsequently passed on to them. They said that the service was paid for on a per-lead basis, and they provided metrics for consumer interaction with the ad.

Verisure said that the part of the campaign which had focused on Warrington had defined “Warrington” based on 16 postcodes with the “WA” prefix, and consumers responding to that particular ad would have needed to have a “WA” postcode to be eligible for the offer. They also said that they did not consider the wording of the ad to have implied that Warrington was the only area they had been targeting.

Responding to concerns that the ad was not limited to 100 people, Verisure said that the contract with their lead generation partner stipulated limits on the number of responses that consumers could take up before they reached a threshold which would see the ad automatically removed, to ensure the offer limits were not exceeded. They said these thresholds were reached when either 80 sales were registered, or 500 leads generated from a specific ad. Verisure said that those thresholds had not been reached during the time the Warrington based promotion was running.

2. Verisure said that the online questionnaire was designed to gather information about potential customers’ property and needs, whilst filtering out people who were not eligible for the promotion due to their location. Verisure told us that they had asked five multiple choice questions about consumers’ property and circumstances: “What type of home do you live in”, “Do you have shutters for your windows”, “Do you have a garden”, “Do you have more than one balcony” and “Have you or any of your neighbours been burgled recently”. A sixth question required the consumer to enter their postcode.

Verisure said that the first five questions were designed to understand customer needs in order to provide a better quality service, and to ensure that their security expert who visits the property will have the correct equipment necessary to install the alarm system. Verisure said that consumers who entered postcodes from areas in which they were not currently running the promotion, or from areas they did not operate in, were filtered out by the sixth question.

Verisure also said that their lead generation partners kept a constantly updated file of individual postcodes for areas which were not eligible for the discount, based on the regions that were not being targeted at any specific time. They also provided a screenshot of the questionnaire’s outcome if an ineligible postcode was entered, which showed an on-screen message superimposed over the questionnaire page which stated “Unfortunately, your postal code lies out of operational bounds.”While Verisure said they did not believe the questionnaire had been misleading, they told us that they had decided to update the funnel and questionnaire for future campaigns.

Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the ad that the 50% off promotion on Verisure’s alarm system was limited to the Warrington area, and that only 100 people would be able to take it up.We understood that the promotion was limited to those who lived in a postcode which began “WA”. Although there were other areas within the UK targeted as part of Verisure’s wider campaign, we understood that they were separate promotions with their own maximum number of participants. We considered that by limiting the Warrington-focused promotion to areas with a “WA” postcode, Verisure met consumers’ expectations that the promotion was targeted at the Warrington area.We also understood that Verisure had a system in place that ensured the ad would be removed if either 80 sales were registered, or 500 enquiries were made.

We understood the latter threshold was based on a best-case scenario that 10% of enquiries would lead to sales. We also understood this was designed to allow potential customers to claim the offer, but take their time to decide if they wanted to purchase the product.

Figures provided by Verisure showed that during the period the ad was targeted at the Warrington area, one sale was made from a “WA” postcode. We therefore understood the total number of sales in Warrington during the promotional period did not exceed the ‘100 people limit’ of the offer, as stated in the ad.

Because we understood the promotion was limited to 100 consumers from the Warrington area, we concluded the ad did not breach the Code.

On that point, we investigated the ad under 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),  3.31 3.31 Marketing communications must not falsely claim that the marketer is about to cease trading or move premises. They must not falsely state that a product, or the terms on which it is offered, will be available only for a very limited time to deprive consumers of the time or opportunity to make an informed choice.  (Availability), and  8.2 8.2 Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.  (Promotional Marketing), but did not find it in breach.

2. Upheld

We considered that consumers would understand from the claim “Answer 6 simple questions to find out if your house is eligible”, that their eligibility for the promotion would be impacted by the responses they entered to the six questions. We considered that because the ad presented the entire questionnaire as a means of establishing eligibility, consumers were likely to understand that all of the questions would filter out those who were ineligible and that, if their property qualified, they would receive a discount that was not available to a number of consumers who had been filtered out. Consumers would already be aware of the criterion based on geographical area, and would already understand the likelihood of qualifying on that basis. They were likely to see the remaining five questions as removing other consumers, and would understand that qualifying for the offer would enable them to receive a discount that other consumers in the Warrington area would not.

However, we understood from Verisure’s response that the first five questions were designed purely for information gathering purposes, to aid potential future installation of their products and had no bearing on whether or not the consumer would be eligible for the promotion. We therefore considered that the ad exaggerated how selective the discount was and concluded that the ad was misleading.

On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule  3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  (Misleading Advertising).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Verisure Services (UK) Ltd to ensure that future ads did not misleadingly exaggerate consumers’ eligibility for a specific offer.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

3.1     3.7     3.31     8.2    


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