ASA raps advertiser over endorsement

A company advertising funeral plans to elderly people has become the first to be rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for not declaring that its “independent” endorser was being paid.

The case against Chosen Heritage will set a precedent for all ads which involve product endorsements from third parties. Advertisers will now be expected to declare in their advertising if they are making any payments to endorsing organisations.

The Chosen Heritage case revolves around a direct mail campaign advertising pre-paid funeral plans to elderly people. The leaflets stated that the Chosen Heritage plans were recommended by Age Concern, which it described as an “independent national charity”. However, the ASA upheld a complaint that the company should have declared it was making commission payments to Age Concern.

It ruled that: “Age Concern should not have been described as `independent’ in this context.”

Graham Fowler, spokesman for the ASA, said the case would affect all advertising where products were endorsed by charities or institutional bodies which claimed to be “independent”.

Recent examples of ads which would need to be amended include Colgate’s Plax ad, which poked fun at the rival Listerine mouthwash (MW March 3).

“If endorsements are based on a recipricol arrangement it must be declared,” adds Fowler.

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