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.

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