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Deceptive Messages & Unsupported Claims Found

Deceptive Messages & Unsupported Claims Found

Failing to make your advert or deal clear enough, or making un-substantiated claim about your offering, could land you in hot water with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

The ASA, which regulates advertising across all media, has today revealed its rulings on a batch of complaints against various merchants and affiliates.

While grumbles against the likes of LOVEFiLM and hotel price comparison website, Trivago, were not upheld after investigation, others were found to have breached the advertising code.


Affiliate website, which represented health supplement products, was found to have broken several codes in relation to its online promotion of slimming products.

“The complainant, who understood that customers would automatically be charged for a subscription if they did not return the product and cancel the subscription within 14 days, challenged whether the implied reference to a ‘free trial’ was misleading,” an ASA spokesman said.

The ASA upheld the complaint and the affiliate, which has now ceased operations, was told the claims must not appear again in their current form.

British registered company Harmony United Ltd, which specialises in health and well-being technology products and offers also an affiliate programme, featured two adverts for its website in the What Doctors Don't Tell You magazine.

Both adverts, one titled ‘How can quantum physics increase your health & well-being?’ and the second, ‘How can quantum physics (legally) increase your PERFORMANCE?’, were disputed by The Nightingale Collaboration – which challenges misleading healthcare advertising.

The organisation questioned whether the implied claims that the advertiser's products could increase health and performance were misleading and could be substantiated.

Personal Case Studies Do Not Count

Harmony said its products ensured that energy and information were sufficiently ordered so the body and mind could utilise them, and directed the ASA to two articles which it believed demonstrated this.

The ASA said the articles did not provide full clinical trials and that the advertiser’s own testimonial did not constitute substantiation for the claims. The ASA banned the adverts from appearing in that current form.

No Breach for Comparison Site

A complaint against price comparison affiliate site Trivago, questioned whether their ‘best price’ claim was misleading and could be substantiated.

This was not upheld by the ASA as it considered that viewers would understand the claim - ‘Trivago compares over 100 websites to find you your ideal hotel at the best price’, to mean that it would search and display the results for a specific request sourced from a large number of hotel booking websites.

One viewer challenged LOVEFiLM's claims about ‘unlimited TV series and movies’, but this was not upheld as no breaches were found.

Pippa Chambers

Pippa Chambers

Freelance News Journalist at PerformanceIN - working to source the latest and breaking news in performance marketing. 

From newspapers to national B2B magazines and technology reporting, I have covered a variety of genres. NCTJ/NCE qualified.

Please email me at and follow me @PippaC1

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