Who: Power Leisure Bookmakers Ltd
Where: Advertising Standards Authority, United Kingdom
When: 6 July 2016
Law stated as at: 1 July 2016
The ASA adjudicated against Paddy Power for misleadingly implying that an offer was available to “everyone”, when there were restrictions as to who could take advantage of it.
Paddy Power aired a TV advert that featured an actor who answered a phone that was labelled “Paddy Power COMPLAINTS”, the caller asked “What’s this I hear about your incredible Cheltenham offer being available to everyone even riff-raff?” The actor replied, “That’s right, it’s one incredible offer.” He then pushed a button which revealed a screen that included the text “MONEY BACK AS A FREE BET 2ND ALL RACES CHELTENHAM” and a voice-over stated, “Money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second in all races at the Cheltenham Festival”. The actor then stated “That’s every single race, every single day.”
The ASA received 12 complaints from customers, complaining that the TV advertisement was misleading as they were unable to take part in the promotional offer.
Paddy Power explained that the terms and conditions, shown on the advertisement explained that there were circumstances in which they could “reclaim the bonus element… and/or void the offer”. Such circumstances tended to be where customers abused the offer to guarantee profits regardless of the outcome. Additionally, Paddy Power explained that they had emailed all their customers who were no longer eligible to take part in promotional offers.
Reference to “Everyone” was misleading
The ASA considered that reference to “Everyone” was an absolute claim and that any small print proviso, purporting to restrict access to the promotion would be a contradiction rather than a clarification.
The ASA upheld the complaint, stating: Because we considered that consumers, including those who were subject to account restrictions, would infer from ad (a) that everyone could take up the promotion, when that was not the case, we concluded it was misleading.
Why this matters:
The ASA is likely to rule against any adverts where there is a purported “absolute” claim, regarding who can participate, even where the restriction applies to “non-genuine” customers who had been removed from accessing the offer due to an abuse of some sort.
In the ASA’s view, where an advertiser uses an absolute claim, then any restriction would need to be as prominent as the headline claim in order to ensure that it was not misleading.
Advertisers need to take care to ensure that where any absolute claims are made, there are no exclusions that apply, that are not explicitly set out with the same prominence as the headline claim.