Advertising Complaints April 1999

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Advertising Complaints April 1999 Powered By Docstoc
					         APRIL 1999

         Not for use before 00.01 hours
         on Tuesday 08 June 1999




  How Television Advertising

  is Controlled

The ITC is the statutory body created by the Broadcasting Act 1990 to
licence and regulate commercial television in the UK. Its remit extends to
all commercially funded television services broadcasting from the UK,
including satellite and cable services. The Act requires the ITC to draw up
and enforce a code on advertising standards and practice. The ITC also
has a duty under the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations
1988 to consider complaints about misleading television advertisements.

The ITC sets standards for television advertising through its Code of
Advertising Standards and Practice. This is adopted and reviewed after
wide public consultation. The ITC also consults regularly with the
Government and has a duty to carry out any government directions about
categories of products and services which may or may not be advertised.
In addition, the ITC receives regular advice on advertising standards from
an external advisory committee comprising representatives of both
consumer and advertising interests.

The ITC enforces compliance through a combination of prevetting
requirements and direct intervention. It requires the television companies
it licenses to employ trained staff to check advertising carefully before
accepting it for transmission. In particular they are required to satisfy
themselves that any claims are accurate and, where appropriate, to inspect
documentary evidence or seek the advice of independent consultants. The
majority of television advertising is vetted by a central body called the
Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) who act on behalf of a
number of ITC licensees collectively, including ITV, GMTV, Channel 4,
Channel 5, BSkyB and UK Gold. In practice, most television advertising
is submitted initially in script form and clearance for film production is
given only when the BACC, or the individual company, is satisfied that
there will be no breach of the rules. Where there is doubt about
interpretation of the rules the television companies are encouraged to seek
guidance from the ITC. These procedures, which are more searching than
those applicable to any other advertising medium, ensure that the vast
majority of advertisements which appear on television do not breach the
rules. The ITC does, however, monitor the finished output closely and
where necessary intervenes to require non-complying advertising to be
withdrawn. A decision by ITC to suspend or discontinue an advertisement
has mandatory and immediate effect and there are severe sanctions for

The ITC considers all complaints which it receives about advertising and,
where an investigation is necessary, requires the television companies to
submit background material to it promptly so that an assessment may be
made with a minimum of delay. All complainants receive a personal reply
to their complaint.

           1   Complaints of Substance

           8   Summary of Other Complaints

       16      Analysis

 of Substance

The following complaints appear to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of
the Code of Advertising Standards and Practice.


         COMPLAINTS FROM     2 viewers

     NATURE OF COMPLAINT     An advertisement appealing for funds for the British Red Cross centred on
                             developing countries and featured children and adults with diseases and
                             injuries. Two cable viewers objected to its scheduling on the children's
                             channel Cartoon Network, and one said that her three year old son had run out
                             of the room in distress when it was shown.

              ASSESSMENT     The commercial was scheduled on Cable & Wireless and Telewest local
                             advertising slots. When judging this case the ITC noted that from a regulatory
                             perspective all output from children's channels was children's programming.
                             Parents understood that they should be able to leave very young children to
                             watch these channels unaccompanied on the understanding that nothing would
                             be shown that would be likely to upset or harm them. The ITC considered that
                             the images of people with injuries and diseases in the British Red Cross
                             appeal, although familiar to adults or older children from similar
                             advertisements or from newsreel footage, had the potential to upset the
                             youngest children. The ITC concluded that the advertisement had not been
                             suitable for showing during children's programming, and sought assurance
                             from Cable & Wireless and Telewest that the visual content of advertisements
                             would in future be thoroughly checked before being scheduled, particularly on
                             children's channels.

                  DECISION   Complaints upheld.
                      Advertising agency: Mother

   COMPLAINTS FROM    59 viewers

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   A father was shown wiping his mouth on his wife's newly ironed shirt. When
                      his wife noticed the soiled shirt the father pretended that their baby had made
                      the mess. A shot of the baby then showed him looking upset.

                      Some viewers who complained believed that the makers of the commercial
                      must have deliberately upset the child in order to film his distress and objected
                      that such practices were exploitative and amounted to child abuse. Other
                      viewers complained that the commercial suggested it was acceptable for
                      adults to blame children for their mistakes.

        ASSESSMENT    The ITC appreciated the well-intentioned concerns of the complainants, and
                      noted that some viewers found the use of very young children in commercials
                      generally unacceptable. It noted however that there is legislation governing
                      the appearance and treatment of child performers and it did not appear that
                      this had been breached.

                      The advertising agency assured the ITC that no distress had been caused to
                      the child during filming. It reported that twin boys had been used and that it
                      had complied completely with legislation governing the use of child
                      performers. Filming had captured a range of emotions, naturally displayed by
                      very young children throughout a day, and the shot of one starting to cry was
                      subsequently chosen as fitting the rest of the commercial's action. A letter was
                      also received from the children's mother strongly objecting to the suggestion
                      that she could have allowed her children to be intentionally upset for the
                      commercial. She confirmed that both she and her husband were present
                      throughout the filming.

                      On the second set of objections to the commercial, whilst the ITC would agree
                      that children should not be made to take the blame for the mistakes of adults,
                      it did not believe that the style of humour in this commercial would be taken
                      at all seriously by viewers.

           DECISION   Complaints not upheld.


    COMPLAINT FROM    1 viewer

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   A 12 night holiday to Tenerife was advertised on-screen as costing £195. A
                      viewer complained that on calling to book the holiday he was told that the true
                      price was £295.

        ASSESSMENT    Teletext confirmed that the on-screen price had been incorrect and was due to
                      a typing error whilst the advertiser was updating the page. They confirmed
                      that the error had been corrected as soon as it became apparent.

                      The ITC agreed that the advertising had been misleading.

           DECISION   Complaint upheld.

                      Advertising agency: BMP DDB Needham

    COMPLAINT FROM    1 competitor

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   One2One objected to Vodafone's claim that their "Pay As You Talk" service
                      involved "no contract". They pointed out that use of the service implied
                      acceptance of its terms and conditions and was therefore, in law, a contract.
                      (See also the Cellnet case which appears on the next page.)

        ASSESSMENT    The ITC initially rejected One2One's argument on the grounds that the claim
                      was unlikely, in practice, to mislead viewers. Viewers were likely to
                      understand the phrase "no contract" to be simply a shorthand way of
                      explaining that this type of mobile phone service does not involve a long term

                      On appeal, however, the ITC agreed with the complainant that the advertiser
                      was not justified in using wording which, if it was taken literally, contradicted
                      the true legal position. The ITC therefore concluded that the claim was

           DECISION   Complaint upheld.       Advertising making the claim ceased during the

                      Advertising agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

    COMPLAINT FROM    1 competitor

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   Solicitors for One2One objected to two claims in advertising for the Cellnet U
                      pay as you go mobile phone service. First, that the service involved "no
                      contract". They pointed out that use of the service implied acceptance of its
                      terms and conditions and was therefore, in law, a contract. Second, they
                      argued that it is not true that users "just pay for call time".

        ASSESSMENT    (1)       "No contract"

                      Until recently, mobile phone services have required subscribers to commit
                      themselves to a contract of at least a year. Newer services such as Cellnet U
                      allow customers to buy a handset and then buy credit for calls via time-limited
                      vouchers. If customers do not replace expired credits, the service is cut off.

                      The ITC accepted that most viewers were likely to understand the phrase "no
                      contract" to be simply a shorthand way of explaining that this type of mobile
                      phone service does not involve a long term commitment and a contract to
                      sign. However, it did not think the advertiser was justified in using wording
                      which, if taken literally, contradicted the true legal position. The ITC
                      therefore concluded that it was misleading for Cellnet's advertising to claim
                      that use of their "U" service involves "no contract". Advertising making this
                      claim ceased during the investigation

                      (2)       "Just pay for call time"

                      The complainant argued that, if "U" customers did not use up all their time-
                      limited credit before the cut-off date, they would lose it. The lost money
                      would therefore have effectively been a charge for network access, not just for
                      call time.

                      The ITC did not agree. There were no separate charges for subscriptions, line
                      rental etc and, whether it was used or not, the full credited amount was
                      available for call charges. This part of the complaint was not upheld.

           DECISION   Complaint upheld in part.

                      Advertising agency: M & C Saatchi

   COMPLAINTS FROM    3 viewers
                      1 competitor

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   The complainants (including Virgin Atlantic) objected to BA's claim to be
                      "the world's favourite airline". Two referred to some customer satisfaction
                      surveys which, they thought, did not support it. Virgin argued that "favourite"
                      implied preference when given a choice and that the historical justification,
                      based on the number of international passengers carried, was therefore not

        ASSESSMENT    This claim was first made in television advertising in 1983. Since then, it has
                      been defended on two grounds. First, that the use of the word "world" would
                      indicate to viewers that the claim referred to international services. Second,
                      that BA carried more international passengers than any other airline. In 1991,
                      the ITC considered similar complaints but accepted the two grounds for
                      defence highlighted above. It is not disputed that BA still carry more
                      international passengers than any rival.

                      The advertiser countered the customer satisfaction surveys quoted by the
                      complainants with others which favoured BA. The ITC, however, did not
                      accept that performance in industry awards or self-selecting customer polls
                      was a satisfactory basis on which to judge the case. They are neither
                      statistically valid nor consistent in their results.

                      Virgin and BA supplied the results of separate, questionnaire-based,
                      independent research surveys analysing what airline customers said BA's
                      claim suggested to them. Each of these produced contradictory indications.
                      The ITC did not accept that research of this kind could reveal how viewers
                      react to the slogan in its normal context. Research into the actual impact of
                      advertising claims would require a different and more complex approach.

                      In the absence of reliable evidence which undermined the historical
                      justification for BA's claim, the ITC concluded that it had insufficient grounds
                      to uphold the complaints.

           DECISION   Complaints not upheld.


   COMPLAINTS FROM    23 viewers

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   A series of ITV promotions for movies and drama being scheduled around the
                      slot previously occupied by News at Ten stated that certain films would be
                      broadcast "uninterrupted".

                      The complainants (including one competitor, BSkyB) felt that this was
                      misleading because advertisements and promotions interrupt all programmes,
                      including films, shown by ITV.

        ASSESSMENT    The broadcaster argued that in the context of the highly publicised move of
                      News at Ten most viewers would understand the "uninterrupted" reference to
                      relate to interruptions of the film by News at Ten itself.

                      Whilst acknowledging the intent of the promotions, the ITC considered that
                      this did not justify the inaccurate use of the word "uninterrupted". It also
                      noted that a number of complainants had mentioned that a key feature of some
                      premium subscription channels is that films are not interrupted by
                      advertisements. This feature is advertised by these channels and is seen by
                      subscribers as an important benefit. The ITC concluded that the unqualified
                      use of the word "uninterrupted" was likely to give many viewers the
                      impression that ITV's films were genuinely uninterrupted, thereby emulating
                      one of the more popular features of the subscription film channels. As this
                      was not in fact the case, the ITC judged the promotions to have been
                      misleading. It instructed ITV not to rerun the promotions unless the word
                      "uninterrupted" was properly qualified.

           DECISION   Complaints upheld.

                      Advertising agency: Faulds Advertising Ltd

   COMPLAINTS FROM    3 viewers

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   Advertising claimed that the Daily Record was "Now only 10 pence every
                      day". The complainants objected that they had to pay 30p (later increased to

        ASSESSMENT    The agency explained that the reduced price applied only in shops supplied
                      from their Aberdeen distribution centre. The advertising ran only in a limited
                      region and the agency said they had thought all shops in that region were
                      supplied from Aberdeen. They assured the BACC that they had removed the
                      advertising as soon as they discovered that some areas were supplied from

           DECISION   Complaints upheld.


    COMPLAINT FROM    1 viewer

NATURE OF COMPLAINT   The complainant objected to the insertion of a local advertisement over the
                      top of a film being shown on the TNT programme channel.

        ASSESSMENT    The complainant was viewing the programme on the Telewest cable service in
                      the Gillingham area, the Thames Estuary South franchise. On the date in
                      question, 16 February, TNT transmitted a wrong cue-tone which triggered the
                      insertion of a local advertisement intended to run in a later advertising break.
                      Telewest immediately suspended all local insertions on the Turner channels
                      during periods when similar errors could occur, pending a longer term
                      solution to the problem. Although this kind of error by the programme
                      provider is not within the gift of the cable operator to remedy directly, they
                      are required by the ITC to have procedures in place sufficient to identify and
                      prevent as far as possible such incorrect insertions. In March 1999 the
                      Commission had levied a financial penalty on Telewest for a series of similar
                      errors. In relation to this specific case, no regulatory intervention was
                      considered appropriate on the grounds that the error had happened during the
                      period to which the earlier financial penalty applied.

           DECISION   Complaint upheld.

             Summary of

             Other Complaints

          Advertisements for the products or services listed below attracted
          complaints which after preliminary assessment, did not raise issues of
          substance requiring further investigation.

          These included complaints repeating points already considered and
          covered in previous summaries, as well as isolated expressions of
          personal opinion or experience which did not call into question the
          conformity of the advertisements with the requirements of the ITC
          Code of Advertising Standards and Practice.

          Product or Advertisement                     Date First    Number of
                                                       Reported      Complaints
HARMFUL   American Express Blue Card                                          2
          Andrex                                                               1
          Art of Fishing                                                       1
          Benecol                                                              1
          Bold Ultra                                                           1
          Burger King                                                          1
          Butterfly Art Barbie                                                 1
          Cable & Wireless                                                     1
          Carlsberg                                                            1
          Chicken Tonight                                                      1
          Churchill Insurance                                                  1
          Claims Direct                                                        1
          COI - DVLA Vehicle Tax                                               1
          COI – Flammability Fires                                             1
          Comfort Colour                                                       1
          Dept. of Transport - Rear Seat Belts                                 1
          DFS                                                                  1
          Diet Tango                                                           1
          Febreeze – Fabric Spray                                              4
          First Plus Financial Loans                                           2
          Ford Cougar                                                          1

Ford Focus                        9
Ford Galaxy                       1
Fosters Ice                       1
Galaxy                            1
Golden Drummers                   1
HEA Immunisation                  1
Honey Nut Shredded Wheat          1
Kronenbourg 1664                  1
Later Magazine                    1
Listerine                         2
Lucozade                          2
Lynx                              1
Mars Maltesers                    2
Mars Snickers                     1
McDonalds - corporate             1
Motorists v Police               11
Nissan Primera                    1
Panadol                           1
Reids Furniture                   1
Rover Marque 200                  1
Ryvita                            1
Sainsbury                         2
Sainsbury Lower Fat Range         2
Schweppes Sparkling               1
Shredded Wheat                    4
SMA Progress Follow-On Formula    1
Specsavers                        1
Starburst                         1
Sunsweet California Prunes        1
Teletext                          1
Toyota Avensis                    1
Vauxhall Vectra                   1
Virgin Atlantic                   2
Walkers Crisps                    4
Walkers Max Crisps                1
Walls Carte D'or                  1
Wella Experience                  1

                Product or Advertisement        Date First   Number of
                                                Reported     Complaints
MISCELLANEOUS   AA Motor Insurance                                    1
                American Express Blue Card                           2
                Arthurs Cat Food                                     1
                Cadbury's Yowie                                      1
                Cadburys Creme Eggs                                  1
                Campari                                              1
                Claims Direct                                        1
                CSI Lounge Suites                                    1
                Diamond Car Insurance                                1
                Magnum Double                                        1
                NSPCC                                                2
                Pedigree Chum                                        1
                Persil Tablets                                       1
                Rover 200                                            1
                Rover 400                                            6
                Safestyle UK                                         1
                Sky Digital                                          1
                Walkers Crisps                                       1
                Whitbread Source                                     1

                Product or Advertisement        Date First   Number of
                                                Reported     Complaints
   MISLEADING   AA Ambulance                                          3
                Anchor Butter                                        1

                Apple Computers                                      1
                Art Course - Orbis                                   1
                B&Q Superstore                                       1
                BACS Direct Debit                                    1
                Bingo                                                1
                Boots Opticians                                      1
                British Telecom                                     10
                British Telecom - ISDN                               2
                British Telecom - Local Calls                        1
                British Telecom - Returning                          1
                BT Cellnet Onephone                                  2
                Cable & Wireless                                    17
                Calgon                                               1
Canada World - Text              1
Carlsberg                        1
Centre Parcs                     2
Claims Direct                    2
Co-Op Stores                     1
Co-operative                     3
Coldseal                         3
Currys                           3
Cyprus Tourism Organisation      1
Daily Mail - Half Price Flight   1
Daily Mirror                     1
DFS                              2
Direct Line Motor Insurance      1
Flora                            1
Ford Focus                       1
Garden Claw                      8
Gateway Pentium III Processor    1
Gillette Mach 3                  1
Global Video                     1
Granada Rentals                  1
Halifax Building Society         1
Head & Shoulders                 1
Hidden Hearing                   2
IBM                              1
Intel Pentium                    7
Inventors Kit                    4
ITK (In The Know) - Text         1
ITV Digital Promotions           4
JJB & Sports Division            2
Kitchens Direct                  5
Kodak Advantix Camera            1
L'Oreal - Le Grand Curl          1
Lombard Direct Loans             1
Lynx                             1
Macleans                         1
Mars Snickers                    1
Maybelline Wonder Curl           1
McDonalds - corporate            1
McDonalds - Happy Meal           1

Mitsubishi                       1
Norwich Union                    2
Norwich Union Healthcare         1
NSPCC                            1
Olivio                           1
ONDigital                        4
One 2 One                        2
Orange Phones                    2
P & O Stena Line                 1
Panadol                          1
Pantene Equity                   1
Pedigree Chum                    1
Pet Plan Insurance               1
Pizza Hut                        1
Program                          1
QVC Product                      2
Racing Telegraph - Text          1
Red Bull                         1
Renault Megane                   1
Rhinolast                        1
Rover 400                        1
Ryanair                          1
Safestyle UK                     7
Safeway                          3
Samsonite 450 - Oyster 2         1
Sky Digital                      4
SMA Progress Follow-On Formula   1
Somerfield Stores                1
Stalwart Assurance Company       1
Sunrise Scooters                 1
Sunset Holidays - Text           1
SWEB                             1
The Travel House - Text          1
Thomas Lloyd Furniture           1
Thomson Holidays                 2
Time Computer Systems            1
Travel House - Text              1
Unibond No More Nails            2
United Parcel Services           2

            Vodafone                                                 1
            Vodafone - Pay as you Talk                               1
            Wickes                                                   1
            Zee TV                                                   1

            Product or Advertisement            Date First   Number of
                                                Reported     Complaints
OFFENSIVE   Amoy Noodles                                              1
            Ariel                                                    2
            Arthurs Cat Food                                         2
            Birds Eye Chicken Chargrills                             1
            Bold Ultra                                               2
            Boots Health and Travel Insurance                        1
            Bosch                                                    4
            British Airways                                          1
            British Telecom                                          1
            Cadbury's Fuse                                           1
            Campari                                                  1
            Carlsberg                                                1
            Chatline                                                 2
            Church of Scientology                                    1
            Citroen Xsara                                            4
            Clairol Herbal Essences                                  1
            Clear Blue                                               1
            Colman's Potato Bake                                     1
            Dabs & T Cut Colour Fast                                 1
            Dr Pepper                                                5
            Dunlop Tyres                                             1
            Elmlea                                                   2
            Fiat Punto                                               1
            Film Trailer - The Exorcist                              1
            Fosters                                                  5
            Gaviscon Heartburn Remedy                                1
            Granada Digital Television                               1
            Heat Magazine                                            1
            Heineken                                                 3
            Honda HR-V                                               2
            Honey Nut Shredded Wheat                                 1
            HP Sauce                                                 3
Iceland                        3
Ikea                          87
Imodium Plus                   1
Kit-e-Kat                      1
Kronenbourg 1664               1
Lilt                           1
Listerine                      2
Magic AM                       1
Mars Bars                      2
Mars Twix                      1
McCain Oven Chips              1
Mercedes Benz                  2
Mercury One 2 One              1
National Tyres and Autocare    1
Nescafe                        1
Nintendo - Zelda               1
Nivea                          2
Otex Eardrops                  1
Persil Tablets                 1
Program                        1
QVC Product                    1
Renault Clio                   3
Robinsons Drinks               1
Scottish Parliament            1
Scottish Power                 1
SlimFast                       1
Specsavers                     3
Swalec                         1
Tampax                         1
Tango Orange                   1
Tena Lady                      2
Tesco                          1
Thomson Holidays               4
Toyota                         1
Trebor Extra Strong Mints      2
Walkers Crisps                 1
Walkers Max Crisps             1
Walls Winner Taco              1
Whitbread Source               4

Woolworths Video        1
Yellow Pages            1
York Dungeons           1

  There were also complaints of a generic character referring to the following matters :-

                Product or Advertisement                         Date First      Number of
                                                                 Reported        Complaints
     HARMFUL    Flashing images                                                          1
                Miscellaneous comments                                                      2
                Toy Advertising                                                             2

                Product or Advertisement                         Date First      Number of
                                                                 Reported        Complaints
MISCELLANEOUS   Amount of Advertising                                                     5
                Formula One                                                                 5
                Inappropriate Breaks                                                        2
                Miscellaneous comments                                                      4
                Noise                                                                       4

                Product or Advertisement                         Date First      Number of
                                                                 Reported        Complaints
   MISLEADING   Amount of Advertising                                                     1

                Product or Advertisement                         Date First      Number of
                                                                 Reported        Complaints
    OFFENSIVE   Car Advertising                                                           1
                Ethnic Minorities                                                           1
                Inappropriate Breaks                                                        2
                Miscellaneous comments                                                      4
                Sanitary Protection Products                                                5


                                                 COMPLAINTS DETERMINED IN APRIL 1999

                            Number of                   Number of                   Number of
                            Complaints              Advertisements        Advertisements about
                                                        referred to      which complaints were
                                                                            upheld wholly or in

     HARMFUL                   101     (0)                  61     (0)                   1      (0)

MISCELLANEOUS                   47     (0)                  19     (0)                   1      (0)

   MISLEADING                  190     (7)                 102     (6)                   5      (1)

    OFFENSIVE                  216     (0)                  75     (0)                   0      (0)

                               554     (7)                 257     (6)                   7      (1)

                                                                          YEAR TO DATE 1999

                            Number of                   Number of                   Number of
                            Complaints              Advertisements        Advertisements about
                                                        referred to      which complaints were
                                                                            upheld wholly or in

     HARMFUL                   454     (0)                 201     (0)                   2      (0)

MISCELLANEOUS                  175     (1)                  63     (1)                  10      (1)

   MISLEADING                  712    (44)                 385    (41)                  20      (4)

    OFFENSIVE                 1206     (0)                 292     (0)                   3      (0)

                              2547    (45)                 941    (42)                  35      (5)

                The numbers in brackets indicate Text advertisements. They are extracted from, not
                additional to, the overall numbers.


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