ASA dragged into Shell UK Smart battle

The Advertising Standards Authority has been dragged into the legal fight between Shell UK and the sales promotion agency Don Marketing.

The agency issued a High Court writ against Shell at Easter alleging a copyright infringement over ownership of the Smart card concept.

But now it is alleging that in 1995 Shell deliberately misled the ASA, which was investigating complaints about its Make Money promotion. As part of it, envelopes were given away with petrol purchases, containing two pieces of paper which had to match to qualify for a prize. Players complained that the envelopes were not secure.

The allegation about Shell misleading the ASA is made on a specially created Website, which discusses Don Marketing’s relationship with Shell over the past ten years.

Don Marketing managing director John Donovan claims Shell lawyers asked his company to withhold additional information which it wanted to pass to the ASA as part of a complaint it had also made.

At the time of the ASA investigation, in July and August 1995, Don Marketing was negotiating to resolve an outstanding legal claim with Shell over ownership of the Make Money promotion idea.

“Shell torpedoed that (ASA) investigation and stopped important information going to the ASA,” says Donovan. “We had further information that would’ve changed what the ASA said in its report.”

The ASA dismissed the complaint. ASA spokesman Bill Lennon. says: “I cannot see it is in anybody’s interest to reopen the claim.”

Shell adds: “Shell did not mislead the ASA. It had all the information it needed to make its decision.”

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