Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Two ASA rulings against Express newspapers

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld one complaint against the Daily Express, and three complaints (regarding one ad) against the Sunday Express.

Both cases involve front page splashes about a free giveaway of toys and games where there was insufficient stock to satisfy demand.

For the daily, the adjudication says

We noted there appeared to have been a lack of communication between the Express, Mattel and ELC resulting in the promotion going ahead when there was insufficient time or stock to satisfy demand. We understood that participants were told about the delay, but nonetheless considered that, because the toy was not available to collect as claimed, the promotion was misleading.

For the Sunday Express:

We considered that the Sunday Express and Argos had not demonstrated that they had made a reasonable estimate of demand for the board game and, moreover, had encouraged readers to purchase the Sunday Express as a precondition to obtaining the board game when the number of items was limited. We concluded that the promotion breached the code.

The ASA has ruled neither promotion should run again in its current form, but since these were one-off giveaways, they probably weren't going to be repeated anyway. And there's no penalty other than a written ruling that few people will ever see.

So while Richard Desmond may have removed his newspapers from the jurisdiction of the Press Complaints Commission, we can be sure the ASA will still be holding them rigorously to account. Ahem.

(Thanks to Amit for the tip)


  1. This brings back fond memories of the Express's (in)famous "£10 cruise for all our readers" fiasco from a few years back. Hundreds of people waited well over a year for their cruise, and eventually took the paper to the Small Claims Court where they received awards of hundreds of pounds.

  2. The Mail shoudl be condemed for this too. When I worked in a well known high street newsagent chain the company in charge of sending the free DVD's for their handouts were uselss. They would send about 50 DVDs for every 200 papers. Of course it was us shop staff who got the abuse and foul language when we ran out. When we suggested the customers contact the Mail directly to get the DVD we were met with more abuse.

    Thank You to the ASA for upholding these complaints, I wish they would force all papers to ensure there is enough stock to meet demand.

  3. Yeah, the newspapers have a track record of this going back to the 1980s, I am not suprised that they are still getting away with it.

  4. They get away with it because no one cares. No one ever complains to/about the newspapers about it (this is a rare example). Even when they do, those who the complaints are made to don't have the power to clamp down in any meaningful way. If they don't give away free chocolate or £1 holidays to Costa-del-Pissup then the sales of their papers would drop and they'd have less influence over people. The fact that said giveaway items are nowhere near as plentiful as the newspaper doesn't bother the paper owners. They don't need to deal with angry people when they miss out on their free DVD of a 30 year old TV series that's repeated on G.O.L.D every night. As far as they are concerned every broken promise of a free gift is another 20/30/40/50p in their back pockets.

    I have seen some odd free gifts in papers:

    Free Ice scraper/tyre tread gauge/shammy spounge combi tool thing in the Star in Mid summer.

    Free Twighlight calendar several months into the year in the Mirror, nowhere near the release of a film or book in the series.

    Free collectible stickers for an album that wasn't in production for several weeks.

    Free BBC DVDs in the Mail with headlines critical of the BBC on the front page.


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