ASA: i wrong to claim it has no 'celeb gossip'

The Independent’s cut-price sister title i has been censured over ‘misleading’claims that it contains ‘no celeb gossip nonsense”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has now banned the newspaper from using the phrase in future marketing campaigns.

A TV ad that aired this year – voiced by I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Here! Contestant Dom Joly – said: ‘i squeezes the content of a quality paper into one that’s small and beautifully informed.

‘So I’ve got the knowledge, in one quick fix. No celeb gossip nonsense, just intelligent stuff and that’s why I love i.”

The complainant, who is not named in the ASA’s adjudication, claimed this was misleading and cited i’s daily ‘Caught and Social’ column which featured stories such as ‘Dame Helen and Russell snog for fans’.

The publishers of i, Independent News & Media, argued the Caught and Social column was a ‘cultural page that informed readers about worldwide arts events that featured famous people who attended them”.

The group also argued that their celebrity stories differed from celebrity gossip because ‘unlike other newspapers, they were based on factual content and not hearsay”.

Clearcast – the company that vets ads before they are aired – said i concentrated on newsworthy stories ‘without sidetracking readers to the kind of celebrity gossip published in red top newspapers and celebrity magazines”, and believed the ad made this clear.

The complaint was, however, upheld by the ASA.

In its adjudication it noted the Caught and Social column featured stories about celebrities and included sections entitled Scene & Heard, OMG, iquote and ichat, which quoted celebrities, and ‘provided updates about where they had been and what they were doing”.

The ASA said: ‘We considered that readers would understand from the ad that there was no celebrity gossip in i.

‘However, we noted featured stories in two different publications from March included headings that stated ‘Alex fancies a pop at 007’, ‘Cilla moves with the times’ and ‘Dame Helen and Russell snog for fans’.

‘We considered that readers would interpret these stories as celebrity gossip and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”

Growth of i has levelled off in recent months. In April it saw a slight month-on-month drop from 175,714 to 171,415 sales a day.

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