The advert ran earlier this year to introduce the ex-Atomic Kitten singer as the face of the female-focused company.
It featured Katona talking about her former money problems with phrases such as “We’ve all had money troubles – I know I have”, and “You could see your bank and fill in loads of forms, but is there an easier way to get a loan”.
Complainants argued Katona’s appearance alongside the claim “fast cash for fast lives” was “irresponsible” for suggesting that a payday loan would help to fund a celebrity lifestyle.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) questioned whether the on-screen interest rate for short-term loans was big enough and suggested the ad was misleading for promoting itself as an alternative to banks.
Cash Lady defended Katona’s role in the campaign, claiming viewer’s would be able to identify with her due to her highly publicised bankruptcy in 2008 following failure to pay a tax bill. It also argued the “fast cash for fast lives” strapline referred to the length of time it could take to get a loan and that it did not in “any way imply, indicate or suggest” the cost of a Cash Lady loan was comparable to a high street bank.
The industry regulator ruled the TV spot was “misleading” and “irresponsible” for promoting itself as an alternative to banks, while offering interest rates in excess of 2000 per cent. Additionally, it found the terms and conditions were not clear enough on-screen and that some viewers would misunderstand the advert to mean a Cash Lady payday loan could fund a lifestyle similar to Katona’s.
The advert drew criticism from some debt charities when it first launched with campaigners arguing Katona’s deal with the firm would attract “vulnerable” viewers.
The rule comes at a time when payday loan firms such as Cash Lady and Wonga are coming under fire from campaign groups for charging high interest rates as well as how they advertise their products. In March, the Government announced plans to impose stricter advertising regulations on the sector under plans unveiled by the Office of Fair Trading.