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Briefings

Member Briefing - ASA ruling

Date: 19/09/13

ASA ruling member note

Dear member,

Following on from our note below, dated July 3, with regards to the ASA ruling against Taylor Wimpey, we finally managed to hold a meeting with representatives from the ASA last week to discuss the implications of the ruling for the industry.

We committed to preparing a paper to send back to the ASA outlining the industry position.

We are currently working on drafting the paper and will circulate in due course.

If in the meantime you have any thoughts on the ruling and how the industry should respond, please email steve.turner@hbf.co.uk

Regards,
Steve Turner

Head of communications

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Wednesday, 03 July 2013

Dear member,

The below is a communication some members have received following an Advertising Standards Authority ruling against Taylor Wimpey, details of which can be found by clicking on the link in the note.

Clearly this has implications for how the industry advertises new homes, and the deadline for complying with the changes is imminent.

HBF has contacted the ASA for clarification on the ruling and also to request a member meeting to discuss the issues raised.

We will communicate further details as we get them.

Regards,

Steve Turner
Head of Communications.

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From: Emily Penson-Clark [mailto:EmilyC@ASA.Org.UK]
Subject: ADVERTISING NEW BUILD HOMES

Dear house builder,

We are writing to bring to your attention important information about pricing in ads for new build homes. This information concerns the application of the CAP Code in regard to pricing on websites and in other media.

Who we are

The CAP Compliance Team. We are responsible for communicating and, as necessary, enforcing ASA rulings and the CAP Code generally. By doing this we ensure that you and your competitors compete on a level playing field.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) represents advertisers and promoters, their agencies, the media and the trade and professional organisations of the advertising and sales promotion business. It writes and enforces the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code) and co-ordinates the activities of its members to achieve the highest degree of compliance with the CAP Code. 

The Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA) is the independent body that assesses whether advertising complies with the Codes. 

ASA and CAP are accepted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Office of Fair Trading as a first line of control in protecting consumers and businesses from misleading advertising.

Why we are writing to you

To update you on a key ASA ruling that has ramifications for the advertising of new build homes; namely the way in which images of show homes are used and the prices that accompany them.  The ruling provides clarity on the application of Rule 3.17 of the CAP code on Prices:

  • 3.17        Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication.

This is the relevant ASA ruling: Taylor Wimpey UK Ltd (2012)

Interpreting the ruling

The new build flat that was the subject of the ASA ruling showed an image of a bathroom, which included a number of bespoke upgrades that were not included in the headline price.  The ASA considered that consumers would infer that those items were included in the price. Taylor Wimpey should have instead used a picture that was representative of the bathroom that was included in the headline price (e.g. a digitally altered picture of the bathroom or a mocked-up picture) or made clear what the cost would be to achieve the bathroom depicted.  To make the costs clear Taylor Wimpey could have adjusted the headline price to include the costs of the bespoke upgrades or stated alongside the headline "from" price, in prominent text, the cost of the bathroom featured.

Summary

In general, we would strongly advise that you ensure the images used in your ads correspond to quoted prices.  You should avoid using images of showhomes if those images include features that are either not available to buyers or not available at the advertised price.  It would, however, be acceptable to:

  • digitally alter an image of a room (e.g. to remove bespoke finishes) in order to match it to the quoted price. Or,
  • the quoted price could be adjusted to take into account the bespoke features included in the image. Or,
  • the price for that particular finish could be stated prominently next to the headline price.

Inserting a disclaimer e.g. “photograph shown is representative only” or “showhome image includes optional features at additional price” is not an acceptable option.

What you need to do

Please review your price claims and their corresponding images to ensure that they comply with our position. If they do not, please adjust the quoted price (or alter the corresponding image/s) as soon as possible. This applies to all ads covered by the CAP and BCAP Codes, including print and press ads, broadcast ads, direct mailings, paid-for ads online including sponsored links, as well as websites and other non-paid-for space online under your control (such as any social networking presence you might have).

Please ensure your advertising is compliant by Friday 5 July 2013

Further assistance

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you do not understand anything in this letter.  If you would like advice about future non-broadcast advertisements, please consult the CAP Copy Advice team, which provides fast and free pre-publication advice that is confidential from competitors.  Although its advice does not bind the ASA Council, the team can help if you are in doubt. You can reach the Copy Advice team via the Copy Advice website http://www.cap.org.uk/Advice-Training-on-the-rules/Bespoke-Copy-Advice.aspx.

For guidance on TV advertising, please contact Clearcast: http://www.clearcast.co.uk/

For guidance on Radio advertising, please contact the RACC: http://www.racc.co.uk/

Yours sincerely

Rupa Shah
Compliance Executive
Direct line 020 7492 2238
Committee of Advertising Practice
Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn
London WC1V 6QT
Telephone 020 7492 2200
www.cap.org.uk
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