ASA bans ‘irresponsible’ Reader’s Digest mailing

The Advertising Standards Authority has censured Reader’s Digest for an “irresponsible” prize-draw mailshot, which urged recipients to keep the mailing private to avoid neighbours getting “jealous”.

The ASA investigated the mailing, created by Proximity London, after a complaint that the phrases such as “Don’t tell anyone you have received this letter” and “Keep these documents private” were irresponsible. There was concern that it could exploit vulnerable people and discourage them from discussing whether they should respond to the ad.

The ASA also said the mailing implied recipients were luckier than they were, by overstating their chances of winning prizes, and was, therefore, likely to mislead.

Reader’s Digest said that the Direct Marketing Association had seen the mailing and considered that it did not breach its code of practice. However, the ASA said the publishing company breached rules on truthfulness and sales promotion, and banned it from using the mailing again.

v The ASA has also upheld complaints for a poster campaign promoting the William Wallace attraction at Edinburgh Dungeon, which portrayed either a dismembered arm or leg. It noted the tone of was intended to be “darkly humorous”, but that the images were “shocking” and “irresponsible” because they could be seen by children. It has ordered attraction owner Merlin Entertainment not to use the ads – created by Farm Communications – in their current form.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here