Clamping down on false online claims

For two decades the web has been a great place to post and find a wealth of information. But in recent years it’s also been a dangerous place where people can be fed false information.

I personally know someone affected by an online scam involving ‘Acai Burn’ weight loss tablets. An introductory offer turned into a recurring monthly payment forcing them to close their bank account.

Another example that I personally felt to be misleading was Converse’s ‘design your own’ online messages. When you type ‘Converse’ into Google the .com site appears at the top even though my location is set to UK.  The first page says design your own so I spent two hours designing trainers that, after falling in love with, consequently found that they weren’t available in the UK. This was particularly strange as UK site ehow has an article on how ‘easy’ the process is!

Our well known and much loved brands are often guilty, accidently or not, of crossing the line with the truth. For example, Coca-Cola’s latest digital campaign for Dr Pepper involved users allowing the company to take over their Facebook statuses for the chance to win $1,000. Disaster struck when the company posted “I watched two girls one cup and felt hungry afterwards” on a 14 year old girl’s profile page. The campaign had to be dropped, public apologies made and Coca-Cola also dropped the agency that created it.

This new regulation from the ASA will mean that companies will have to adhere to the non-broadcast advertising rules as set out in the CAP Code by ensuring that marketing messages on their websites are legal, decent, honest and truthful.

The first lot of B2B advertising from the ASA is aimed giving companies a chance to get their online (and other non-broadcast such as: cinema, press and poster) communications in order as well as giving them all the necessary advice on how to do so, over a month in advance of the commencement of the new regulation.

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