Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Licensed Taxi Drivees Association Ltd t/a LTDA
Where: United Kingdom
When: 25 November 2020
Law stated as at: 19 January 2021
The ASA has ruled that a radio ad for London black cabs was misleading and exaggerated, as not all cabs could guarantee “over two meters” distance from the driver and a completely separated space between the driver and passenger. The radio ad was found to be in breach of UK Code of Broadcast Advertising.
The LTDA, which represents the London black cabs, aired a radio ad in July 2020. The ad featured a voice of a woman, with the background sound of being in a taxi, stating that “I’m concerned about my well-being so I always hail a black London cab”. The woman goes on stating that she is completely divided from the driver as if “being in [her] own bubble” and that the driver is “over two meters” away from her when sitting on the back seat. The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading in that it was suggesting that London black cabs could prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The ASA considered the ad claims in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The ASA considered references to being “divided from the driver” and “in my own bubble” as the ability for the passenger to be entirely separated from the driver at all times and travel in the cabs would be able to negate the risk. The ASA considered that, while the cabs did have the ability to install an additional seal to the screen separating the driver from the passenger, this installation was voluntary and drivers did not have to install the seal and as such a “bubble” was not always available to passengers.
It was further considered by the ASA whether the passenger and driver were always at least separated by a two meters distance. While LTDA did supply internal dimensions of three cab models, only two were able to claim “over two meters” distance between the driver and passenger when sat in the back, while one model only two meters or less.
The ASA upheld the complaint as the ad exaggerated the extent to which these features to reduce the risk of Covid-19 were present in London black cabs.
Why this matters:
Cobvid-19 and the attached risks to health, safety and well-being are in the forefront of the ASA’s stance when reviewing ads. The ASA and consumers are also currently more likely to scrutinize ads which directly or indirectly advertise a possible benefit in relation to Covid-19 risks.
We suggest that advertisers carefully consider the claims being made in relation to Covid-19 secure or risk reduced abilities or features of goods or services being advertised. Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure that any ads do not fall foul of the ASA.