The ASA is watching you!

by Stratton Craig

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Most people are aware of the Advertising Standards Authority’s remit of comprehensive consumer protection when it comes to factors like false advertising and mis-selling. Until now, this has covered TV ads, billboards, newspapers etc, but as of March 1st, their responsibility is extended to monitor companies’ online presence too. Messages on websites, blogs and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook will now be under the same watchful eye that has given companies including, Microsoft, L’Oreal and Nestle strict orders on their marketing in the past.
If a user feels that web or social networking content has misled them or mis-sold a product or service, or if there is a case that the content is not socially responsible, they can make an official complaint for the ASA to investigate.
So those are the facts – but what does it mean for those responsible for their companies’ online presence?
Any claims on your company’s website/social networking accounts must be clearly substantiated with documentary evidence. So if you claim that you’ve created the world’s fastest mobile phone software – you had best be able to prove that. You also need to be wary of bias and misleading statements.
It all sounds fairly simple, but with even the big boys falling victim of their own offence, it’s something that can happen unintentionally. So, as ever with your digital content, be clear, be concise and be transparent with your communication. That way, you won’t confuse your consumers and more importantly, you’ll steer clear of the ASA’s wrath!

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