The ASA has shown its determination to stamp out problem advertising, by making its first two referrals to Trading Standards.
Since 2013, the ASA has been able to refer enforcement work required against advertisers who continue to make misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair non-broadcast advertising to the National Trading Standards Board. Trading Standards has various powers to use against such advertisers, including warnings and, more importantly, seeking criminal prosecutions or civil enforcement orders.
The referrals in question are in relation to misleading advertising claims about the supposed health benefits of various drops and drinks. Unproven claims about the alleged health benefits of products are particularly dangerous as they can dissuade people from seeking proper advice about their health issues and can lead to ineffective ‘self-medication’. In spite of the ASA finding that the advertisers were in breach of the ASA Advertising Code and being placed on the list of non-compliant online advertisers on the ASA’s website, both advertisers continued to make problem claims.
This is a positive move from the ASA and should result in fewer advertisers persisting in using misleading advertisements. It also highlights the need for advertisers to be aware of, and comply with, the ASA’s Advertising Code. Certainly if the ASA finds against an advertiser, it is vital for it to then ensure that all future advertisements are fully compliant with the Advertising Code.
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