ASA rules on further Express 'advertorials'

Richard Desmond’s Express Newspapers has fallen foul of the advertising watchdog for the fourth time in two weeks after running advertorials as editorial features.

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an advert featured in the Daily Express for a supplement to ease joint pain after ruling that editorial about Goldshield’s Rozip formed part of a whole page advert for the product.

The ASA said the editorial, by journalist Alison Coleman, ran alongside a half-page ad and an order form for the product, turning the whole page into a “marketing communication”.

As such it asked Goldshield to substantiate claims made in the article that Rozip could relieve joint pain.

Goldshield told the ASA claims made in the article about the product’s analgesic effectiveness were the responsibility of the newspaper, as it had editorial control.

Despite this claim, and Express Newspapers saying no payment was received for the article, the advertising watchdog said it understood a “conditional relationship” existed between the ad and the supporting copy and it should have included the words “advertisement feature” or similar.

This ruling follows an investigation by the ASA’s monitoring team that heavily criticised the Express last week – in three seperate rulings – for attempting to circumvent the advertisers’ code by running numerous product features on the same page as adverts about those products.

Today’s ruling said: ‘The ASA noted Goldshield’s assertion that the top part of the page was editorial and as such they were not responsible for its contents.

“We also noted they had not sent evidence to substantiate the claims made in Ms Coleman’s article for Rozip, because they did not believe it was their responsibility to do so.

“However, we understood that there was a conditional relationship involving supporting copy between the top and bottom halves of the page, and that the ad in the bottom half of the page was booked by Goldshield on the understanding that Ms Coleman’s article would appear above it.

“We noted Ms Coleman’s article discussed Goldshield’s Rozip in a favourable light. We considered that, because of this reciprocal arrangement, Goldshield in fact had implicit control over the top half of the page and as such Goldshield was responsible for ensuring the contents of the entire page complied with the code.”

The ASA ordered that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

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