ASA reveals ‘big five’ misleading ads priorities

The Advertising Standards Authority has for the first time set out the “big five” misleading advertising priorities it aims to place focus on and hopefully tackle in the coming year.


The ASA and CAP’s 2012 annual report listed the big five as: free trials that cost, daily deals, misleading pricing, misleading testimonials and misleading health claims.

The report reveals 70 per cent of the cases the ASA dealt with last year were about misleading advertising. Overall the industry body received 31,298 complaints about 18,990 ads, which led to 3,700 campaigns being changed or withdrawn. In 2011 it received 31,458 complaints about 22,397 cases.

Television remains the most complained about advertising medium with 11,945 complaints, up 6 per cent year on year closely followed by the internet (9,754 and down 4 per cent year on year). Leisure was the most complained about sector with an 11 per cent increase in complaints to 5,476.

As well as making rulings against misleading ads, the ASA and CAP also took action behind the scenes. For example, it worked with industry trade organisations in sectors such as complementary and alternative medicine, cars and broadband to help members comply with the rules. More work is underway in 2013 to prevent particular operators “baiting the public unfairly” with misleading claims, the ASA says.

The ASA took significant action against daily deals companies in 2012, which it said resulted in a “wholesale shift” in the way these businesses now approach their advertising. The ASA says it will continue to “keep a close eye on the sector” to ensure consumers get a fair deal.