A sponsored link was entitled “Flowers Delivery Sunday,” but the sponsoring florist did not deliver on Sundays. A complaint was made to the Advertising Standards Authority and Candice Macleod reports on the verdict and moves to extend the CAP Code’s online remit.
Topic: Online advertising
Who: Flowers-For-All Occasions.com
Where: Advertising Standards Authority
When: 18 February 2009
The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) considered a complaint made in respect of a sponsored link for Flowers-For-All Occasions.com. The link was for a flower delivery service’s website and was headlined with the statement “Flowers Delivery Sunday”. The supporting text to the link stated “Bouquet Delivered just for £9.99! Free Chocolates with Each Order”.
The complainant said that since Flowers-For-All-Occasions.com did not actually deliver on Sundays, the link was misleading and breached 7.1 of the CAP Code.
Section 7.1 of the CAP Code provides that “no marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.”
The ASA upheld the complaint and ruled that the link wording must not appear again in its current form.
To ensure compliance with this ASA ruling, Flowers-For-All-Occasions responded by changing the specific words “Sunday” “flower” and “deliver” to be negative key words. This would prevent these words being displayed in a sponsored search result in the future.
Why this matters:
This verdict underlines that sponsored links are advertising communications and therefore governed by the CAP Code.
Having said this, the applicability of the CAP Code to online advertising activity generally is currently an issue under intense debate. “Website content” is not currently governed by the CAP Code except for “sales promotions and advertisements in paid-for space”.
The ASA and the Committee of Advertising Practice have been under intense pressure to push the ambit of the Code further into website content. At the time of writing, eighteen month long negotiations with stakeholders look to have foundered on the predictable issue of funding, but HM Govt is unlikely to settle for the status quo, so watch this space!