Reader's Digest rapped by advertising watchdog for misleading marketing

Monthly magazine Reader’s Digest has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for a marketing letter which it said could confuse elderly people.

The direct mail letter was headed: “***PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE*** ENCLOSED FOR THE EYES OF XXXX ONLY.”

It said inside: “Please don’t tell anyone you received this letter from me – at least not yet. I’m breaking with standard procedure and bringing news that is in your favour.

‘It’s a good idea to keep these documents private as only you can benefit from their contents. Many people (including residents of xxxx and even neighbours of yours on xxxx) have previously expressed interest in our Grand Prize Draw.

‘If they, or anyone else, read the documents I’ve enclosed today, they might become jealous as you, xxxx, are one of a specially selected group who have been automatically advanced directly to the £250,000 Winner Selection Stage.”

Reader’s Digest has been running prize draws in the UK for 30 years and said that this mailing was sent to ‘existing loyal customers’who would be ‘familiar with their mailings and the way their draws operated”.

The ASA said that the letter could confuse recipients, particularly elderly ones.

It said: ‘We understood Trading Standards advised consumers to discuss unsolicited letters with friends and relatives before entering into any kind of prize draw activity. We considered that by directly telling consumers to keep the mailing private and not to discuss it with anyone the mailing was irresponsible and in breach of the Code.”

The ASA also said that they believed the letter exaggerated the recipient’s chances of winning the draw and was therefore ‘likely to mislead”.

The Reader’s Digest was told not to use this mailing again.

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