Express falls foul of the ASA for sixth time in five months

Richard Desmond’s Express Newspapers has fallen foul of the advertising watchdog for the sixth time in little over five months after running a misleading reader offer.

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an ad featured in the Daily Express after ruling the “free fireworks” offer was misleading.

This censure follows the advertising watchdog upholding four separate complaints in August about the Daily Express running advertorials as editorial features.

The ASA then ruled in October that a fifth ad for a solar powered watch was also misleading.

The latest sanction comes after the advertising watchdog received two complaints over a front-page flash in the Daily Express which claimed “free fireworks for every reader at Sainsbury’s”.

Separate text placed the offer’s value at £29.99 while small text printed vertically on the page told readers the offer was open “when you spend £15 at participating Sainsbury’s stores”.

The ASA agreed with a complainant who said “every reader” was not able to take advantage of the offer because Sainsbury’s branches in Northern Ireland were not participating.

The ASA ruled today: “It was the case that no readers in Northern Ireland would reasonably have an opportunity to take advantage of the offer we concluded that the term ‘every reader’ was misleading.”

Express Newspapers told the ASA that it was clear on the front page that the offer was limited to participating stores and it believed the claim was not misleading as every reader was still free to use the voucher at a participating store.

The ASA upheld a second complaint that the front page ad was misleading as it did not specify that readers had to spend £15 on fireworks to qualify for the offer. It was not until readers turned to page 31 that this detail became clear.

Sainsbury’s told the ASA that they had no control over how terms and conditions were displayed on the front-page flash.

The supermarket chain said that it did have control over page 31 which made clear that a conditional spend of £14.99 on fireworks was required.

The newspaper publisher argued that the conditional spend of £15 was made clear on the front page.

The ASA ruled: “We considered this was a significant condition likely to influence consumers in their decision to purchase the paper and take up the offer and should have been stated in the front-page flash itself.

“We noted that the front-page flash stated ‘when you spend £15 at participating Sainsbury’s stores see page 31’ but did not make clear that this had to be spent on fireworks.

“We therefore considered that readers would infer the £14.99 could be spent on any products. Because this was not the case we concluded the front-page flash was misleading.”

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

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