Regulation  

Advertising watchdog cracks down on funeral plan ad

Advertising watchdog cracks down on funeral plan ad
 Photo: Mike via Pexels

The advertising regulator has censured lead-generating adverts for a funeral plan as 'misleading' and has ordered these to be pulled.

According to the Advertising Standards Agency, the Open Media Group hosted a banner advert on Youtube, claiming that 'UK Seniors claim new benefit in February'. 

But a couple of viewers complained about the ad, which took people to a page on the Must Have Money Tips website, and linked to a page on the Peace of Mind Funeral Planning website (lp.peaceofmindplans.co.uk).

The complaints said it was misleading, as it intimated UK residents within a certain age category could claim a new government or similar benefit from February 2021, and that by clicking through they could find out how to claim it. Instead, the adverts were really designed to gather consumers' information.

In its published ruling, the ASA said complainants had raised two concerns:

1. The claims in both ads that UK seniors could claim a new benefit were misleading and could be substantiated.

2. The ads falsely implied the marketer was acting for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession and did not make clear their commercial intent.

The ASA said: "The ad also featured the text 'Peace of Mind Funerals' which suggested that the benefit was in relation to funerals.

"We acknowledged that consumers were likely to understand from the placement of that wording next to the word 'ad' that an organisation or business using the name 'Peace of Mind Funerals' had placed the ad.

"However, we considered that did not provide sufficient information to counteract the impression that the ad referred to a government or other benefit relating to funerals."

The ASA investigated both a banner ad, and an ad in a content discovery network for Open Media Group. 

The ASA stated: "The banner ad, seen on a YouTube on 12 February 2021, included an image of a woman’s face with the claim: 'UK Seniors claim new benefit in February UK Seniors claim this brilliant new benefit in February'. Text beneath stated 'Ad: Peace of Mind Funerals'.

"The ad linked to a page on the Must Have Money Tips website articles.musthavemoneytips.co.uk, titled 'Thousands of UK Seniors are rushing to claim this new benefit in 2021'.

"All of the hyperlinks on that page linked to a page on the Peace of Mind Funeral Planning website.

"The content discovery network ad, seen on a local news website on 12 June 2021, included an image of a smiling woman holding up a letter with a green logo at the top and the text 'GREAT NEWS!'. 

"The rest of the letter’s text was illegible. The text underneath the image stated 'UK Seniors Born 1940 - 1970 Can Claim This Brilliant New Benefit', followed by text which stated 'Peace Of Mind | Sponsored' and a box which stated 'Sign Up'."