Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Brand owner's permission not required to offer its products as prizes, rules ASA

Out-Law News | 15 Sep 2010 | 2:03 pm | 1 min. read

The makers of Bodyform sanitary protection products did not need the permission of fashion house Stella McCartney Ltd to advertise its garments as prizes in a competition, the advertising regulator has said.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled that SCA Hygiene Products, which makes Bodyform, did not break advertising rules when it said in an advert that customers could win underwear made by Stella McCartney Ltd (SMC).

The adverts publicised the opportunity for potential customers to enter a draw on the Bodyform website every day to win £100 worth of underwear. After a complaint from SMC, the company included a clarification that the competition was not in association with SMC.

SMC complained about the adverts, claiming that they "took unfair advantage of the SMC brand, because they had associated the SMC brand with a personal hygiene product without permission", according to the ASA ruling. The company also said that the ads implied that SMC endorsed the Bodyform range.

The ASA rejected the claims that the adverts took unfair advantage of or denigrated SMC's garments.

"The [advertising] Code did not require SCA to obtain SMCs prior approval before referring to their brand," it said. "We considered that readers would understand the ad to be claiming that the SMC underwear was a product of value and a desirable prize. We considered that a reference to another manufacturer's product as a prize, in the absence of additional disparaging claims, was unlikely to be interpreted by readers as discrediting that brand or company."

The ASA also rejected the claim that the adverts unfairly linked the two companies or suggested an endorsement.

"[The ads] did not state that SMC had approved the promotion, endorsed SCAs brand, or that the competition was conducted in association with them," said the ruling. "We considered that a reference to another brand alone would not be interpreted by readers as an endorsement"

"We acknowledged SMCs concern that they had not given consent for SCA to refer to their brand," the ASA said."However, we considered that, because the ad did not state or imply that SMC endorsed SCAs brand or their competition, it was not necessary for SCA to obtain SMC's permission to mention their brand in the context of offering the products as prizes. We therefore concluded that the ads did not breach the Code."

The ASA investigated the adverts under rules covering denigration, truthfulness and endorsement but found no breach.

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