The Advertising Standards Agency could not be clearer in what they see as the adverts they will target. Recently, they have indulged themselves with actions against a number of advertisers where they believed the headline offer to be misleading. It is a warning for us in email marketing that risky behaviour needs to be thought through.
They have focused on a number of retailers which have made unreasonable price claims for their products. I won’t name the companies. However, you can probably guess which high street retailer of electronic goods ran the television advert, together with one of their website, claiming ‘Get your LG OLED TV for half price, with a one-in-20 chance to get your money back . . .’
You can also guess what happened. A number of complaints arrived when customers discovered they could not purchase the TV for half price. The classic defence, one that has been rejected a number of times, suggesting that the subtext made it clear that it was only an offer of the chance to win back half the product price, failed to impress the ASA.
A clothing company showed an image of a product, with a headline stating, “USE CODE: SAVE75”, despite the code not applying to the products shown. A third company ran with a 40% off claim, and it will come as no surprise to you to realise that it applied only to a restricted number of items.
I would assume that most of us in email marketing realise that such advertising would be seen as an affront by the ASA. Why didn’t these companies? The ASA has been clear in the past, certainly clearer than these headlines, as to what is required when advertising, including email marketing campaigns.
It is an empty defence to suggest smaller text makes clear what the headline offer is as there would be little point in running the headline if the reader would work it out instantly. Such advertising is misleading. Subscribers to email marketing lists have the easy-out of clicking the unsubscribe button. Sorry for the lack of sympathy, but if you mislead, you have no-one to blame but yourself for the fallout.