Who: Revolut Ltd (Revolut), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA)
When: 8 February 2019
Law stated as at: 5 March 2019
The ASA has referred complaints about the banking app Revolut to the FCA, concerning the integrity of data used in an advertising campaign last year. The company, which offers app-based current accounts, has grown rapidly since its launch in 2015, reaching unicorn status (a tech-startup worth more than billion dollars) in April last year.
The complaints referred to the FCA concern Revolut’s advertising campaign from February 2018. One advert read:
“To the 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway on Valentine’s Day. You ok, hun?”
The advert was first drawn to the attention of the media by a tweet of the advert on the London Underground. Complaints alleged that this advert was both “single-shaming” and hinted at Revolut’s improper use of users’ data.
In a statement in February 2019, the ASA stated that it had received a small number of complaints in connection with the Revolut advertising campaign. However, the ASA found that the complaints fell outside of its scope, since the adverts did not breach any of its code.
The ASA stated that where complaints concerned the product or services, these complaints fell within the remit of the FCA. The ASA stated “As the complaint touches on the potential misleading financial services provided by the advertiser, we will be referring the matter to the Financial Conduct Authority, whose remit this would fall under.”
Revolut has admitted that the figures in the advert were made up and should have been labelled fictitious.
Why this matters:
This case is a reminder of the potential dangers for brands in highlighting consumer data (whether fictitious or otherwise) in advertising. In particular, the use of consumer data caused concern as the general public are much more aware about how their personal data is used and protected since the coming into force of the General Data Protection Regulation.
The case is also a reminder that the ASA will defer to the FCA when a complaint relates to the advertising of a financial product or service.