Number plate should not have been in ad, ASA rules

Out-Law News | 12 Sep 2011 | 11:49 am | 1 min. read

A photo of a horse van was in breach of privacy rules, the UK's advertising watchdog has ruled.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that Equi-Sport Horseboxes had breached the CAP Code when it featured a photo of the horse van on its website. The van's licence plate was visible even though the owner had not given his permission for it to be, ASA said. ASA had investigated after receiving a complaint from the van owner.

The CAP Code, written by the Committee of Advertising Practice, is the set of rules for non-broadcast marketing. It provides rules on print and online advertising, amongst other mediums.

Under the CAP Code marketers are generally expected to obtain written permission from members of the public before referring to or portraying them or their "identifiable possessions".

Advertisers may not need to gain permission if their "marketing communication contains nothing that is inconsistent with the position or views of the featured person", the CAP Code states.

"We noted that the license plate of the horsebox was visible and we considered that it would be possible to identify the horsebox as belonging to the complainant," ASA said in its adjudication.

"We considered that Equi-Sport Horseboxes should have obtained written permission to use the horsebox on the website. Because we had not seen evidence that they had such permission, we concluded the website breached the Code," ASA said.

"The photograph of the horse van concerned should be removed or the license plate number obscured. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team," it said.

The CAP Compliance team is responsible for ensuring advertisers remove or amend ads to comply with ASA adjudications.

ASA also said that Equi-Sport breached CAP Code rules on the timeliness of their responses to its investigation.

Under the CAP Code "any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA’s enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code".

ASA said it was "concerned" that Equi-Sport had only acknowledged receipt of the van owner's complaint without further responding. It said that this showed an "apparent disregard for the Code" and constituted an 'unreasonable delay'.

"We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future," ASA said in its adjudication.