When two TV advertisers failed to indicate in TV ads that their offer didn’t extend to N. Ireland, the ITC was not impressed.
Topic: Misleading advertising
Who: the ITC, Churchill Insurance and Digital Cellphones
When: February 2001
Two TV advertisers recently suffered a "Complaint upheld" finding at the hands of the ITC over inapplicability in Northern Ireland of the offering advertised. Digital Cellphones actually included in its ad inviting viewers to call to order a free mobile phone the phrase "(UK Mainland only") in on-screen text. However, it was after the words "orders before 6pm dispatched the same day" at the same time as voiceover saying that whichever phone was chosen it would be dispatched the same day. The ITC determined that the UK mainland caption would be understood to refer only to the same day delivery, not, as was the reality, to the entire offer. Churchill Insurance’s advertisement for insurance not available in Northern Ireland was on a satellite broadcast, but when the ad was originally made it was intended for UK terrestrial only and so omitted any caption excluding Northern Ireland. The ITC confirmed that the exclusion of Northern Ireland was a material condition which had to be made clear in the advertisement. The complaint was accordingly upheld.
Why this matters:
Broadcast advertising producers should always cover off the likely territorial usage of the end result and the potential availability of the product advertised in all parts of the potential footprint. A default caption dealing with non-availability in any parts of the UK might be the best policy.