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Are You Sure Your Marketing is Legal?


The image above is a real, live ad that appeared next to my newsfeed on my Facebook page. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and so I clicked through to see where it went. Where it actually went was another site completely (ie it didn’t go The Daily Mail’s site) with a very spurious and obviously entirely fictitious story about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge splitting up. The story went on to say that they (the reporters) had been interviewing her recently about her beauty regime (I don’t believe that either)…and went on to talk all about their product.

This product by the way, is a skin care product. You order the free trial, for which they take your card details, so that they can charge you approximately £80 a month thereafter to send you this moisturiser. Nothing illegal in this, other than a hefty “caveat emptor” I would say. (For £80 a month, it had better make me look like a 20 year old again!! And no, I didn’t order any…)

However, what IS interesting is the ad itself. I saw a similar one recently saying that David and Victoria Beckham had split up, so they’re obviously running a bit of a campaign. I have captured the URL and made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority: in my view this ad is immoral and dishonest. It uses a headline in the ad which is not true, and uses a vanity URL ( when it has nothing to do with The Daily Mail.

All advertising – and for that read ANY promotional material you produce online or offline (websites, social media, leaflets, blogging, video blogs, traditional ads etc) – must follow the Advertising Standard Authority’s Code of Conduct. And what that means is that it must be “legal, decent, honest and truthful”, and that’s in the spirit as well as the letter of the code. Anything you say in promotional material MUST be able to be substantiated. (Thus if you are any kind of therapist, counsellor or coach, then you can not say your treatment or programme WILL get rid of problem or issue ‘X’ or produce ‘Y’ results unless it has been proven scientifically.)

It only takes one person to complain for the ASA to take note and look into the issue. If they uphold the complaint, at best the advertiser will be asked to take the ad down and never publish it again; at worst the advertiser will be fined – a lot. If you are a small business, you are not immune: the ASA treat everyone the same.

So, EVERY time you write anything for promotional and marketing purposes, ask yourself if it is legal, decent, honest and truthful. Can it be substantiated?

You owe it to your business to make sure you are aware of the ASA and their rules – it’s good to check in with ASAand have a read through. The ASA are there to help, and give a free copy checking service (although if you want it within 4 hours, you will have to pay), which will save you any trouble in the future.

However, I have had many, many years experience of dealing with marketing copy, so if you have any questions or are at all concerned, please do not hesitate to call me on 01452 223306 and I’ll be only too happy to advise.

Dedicated to your success,

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