Who: Sophora Media t/a Enchere VIP and the ASA
When: 22 January 2014
Law stated as at: 12 March 2014
An ad appeared on www.revuetendanceconso.com for “Enchere VIP”, an online paid auction website. Written in French, it was presented as a news article and (as translated) stated things such as ‘You have probably noticed a new phenomenon developing … Stock liquidation websites. All over the net, and blogs, you can read the stories of happy winners who have won fabulous, and usually very expensive, items for just a pittance. But we weren’t 100% convinced ..’.
The ad then went on to describe the author’s positive experience of Enchere VIP, and how they had paid only €163 for a MacBook Pro. Further text then explained how users could sign up to Enchere, alongside details of a current promotion and free bids and the statement that ‘PS Enchere VIP have agreed to extend their offer for our readers. Enjoy it while you can!”
It was challenged that (amongst others) this was misleading as it was presented as a news article and it wasn’t made clear it was marketing.
Je ne regrette rien (well, the opposite actually)
Sophora didn’t challenge the complaint. They had not authored the ad, one of their affiliates had, but nonetheless agreed it was misleading and had instructed the affiliate to withdraw it. They had also received assurances from the affiliate it would no longer display misleading ads.
The ASA unsurprisingly also agreed with the complainant. They considered that the presentation and content of the ad implied it was an editorial piece that had been independently written. As this wasn’t the case, and it wasn’t clearly marked as advertorial, this was misleading.
Why this matters:
With more and more native content and incentivised blogs social media content, this is a timely reminder that transparency is always key. It is also worth noting that even if ads are in another language and prepared by a third party, the primary responsibility for compliance with the Code falls on the marketers themselves.