ASA: Evening Gazette's wedding offer was misleading

The Advertising Standards Authority has censured Middlesbrough’s Evening Gazette over a promotion offering readers the chance to win a ‘Dream Wedding worth over £10,000″.

The advertising watchdog banned the Trinity Mirror newspaper from running the promotion in its current form after upholding a complaint from the eventual winner that both the list of prizes and the claim they would exceed £10,000 in value were misleading.

Gazette Media Company – the division of Trinity Mirror that runs the paper – ran the promotion in conjunction with a local hotel and associated suppliers who provided products and services for free, in return for publicity.

GMC told the ASA the component cost of the prize was genuine and based on prices normally charged by its suppliers. The publisher provided the watchdog with written quotations and signed confirmation orders from the suppliers.

Publishing its adjudication today, the ASA said the reception cost was based on the price charged for peak dates between October and March. Despite the complainant having chosen a peak date, the ASA concluded that if an off-peak date had been chosen the lower cost of the reception would reduce the overall prize below £10,000.

“We therefore considered that the fact that the value of the hotel reception was based on peak rates should have been included in the small print, in order to make clear to consumers the basis on which the £10,000 prize was based,” the ASA said.

“Because it was not we concluded that on this point the promotion was misleading.”

The ASA also said the promotion’s offer of a “Made to measure Bridal Gown” was actually a voucher to the value of £600 while the “Fresh Bridal Flowers” prize was only to the value of £400.

“We considered that those limitations were significant qualifications to the prize and should have been made clear in the promotion in order to avoid unnecessary disappointment,” the ASA stated.

“We therefore concluded that the promotion gave a misleading impression of those two elements of the prize.”

A complaint relating parts of the prize covering the provision of a photographer and car hire were dismissed by the ASA.

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