An advert for a biscuit bar which claimed to be 100 per cent natural and another which portrayed a model who appeared to be a child in a sexual way were among a record number of adverts were amended or withdrawn last year following action by advertising watchdogs.
In total the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) resolved 27,138 complaints about 19,398 ads, a 14 per cent increase in the number of adverts subject to action compared to the previous year. The internet overtook TV as the most complained about medium in the period.
Adverts which were banned last year included one from snack brand Go Ahead, which was “misleadingly” advertised as containing 100 per cent natural ingredients.
Meanwhile, make-up firm Stylenda was told to withdraw an advert which showed a model who appeared to be very young, gazing flirtatiously into the camera and electrical goods seller Currys was rapped on the knuckles for making misleading savings claims for two TV models.
ASA chief executive, Guy Parker said: “We want to make sure ads are responsible without consumers necessarily having to complain to us. By being more proactive, we’ve secured the amendment or withdrawal of more ads than ever before.
“At the same time, we’ve delivered a record amount of advice and training to help businesses get their ads right before they run. Our approach is helping make ads more responsible, which is in the best interests of consumers, businesses and wider society.”
The organisation is this year to focus on secondary ticketing providers, which have been told to make changes to their websites by 26 May to make sure the presentation of pricing information does not mislead customers – or face the threat of sanctions including referral to Trading Standards.
Meanwhile, sister organisation the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which co-authored the report, said it had resolved 20,952 cases under its own initiative rather than responding to complaints from the public. This figure contributed to the record number of ads or ad campaigns that were amended or withdrawn. CAP also delivered a record 389,289 pieces of advice and training to businesses during 2017 – a 39 per cent increase from the previous year.
CAP is this year to take targeted enforcement action against online and distance sellers who use parcel delivery services which make misleading “Free UK delivery” claims when the charge or service stated does not apply across the whole UK – a problem which particularly affects people living in the Highlands and Islands.