UK regulator targets Facebook ad about financial advice over misleading use of Martin Lewis image

Maria Nikolova

The ad gave the misleading impression that Martin Lewis had endorsed Sterling Partnership, the ASA has ruled.

The United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been regularly checking adverts of financial products and services, with the latest ruling on such an issue concerning financial advisors Sterling Partnership Ltd.

Today, the ASA published a ruling about a Facebook ad for Sterling Partnership Ltd, dated 28 February 2017, which included an image of Martin Lewis, a founder of Moneysavingexpert.com, and text which stated “Get the Latest Money Saving Tips & Advice”.

Moneysavingexpert.com and Martin Lewis had taken the matter to the ASA, as they believed that the ad misleadingly implied Martin Lewis endorsed Sterling Partnership’s services.

In response, Sterling Partnership Ltd confirmed that the advert was used between February 1, 2017 and March 21, 2017. However, the company said the ad was withdrawn once the error was uncovered.

The ASA sided with Mr Lewis. The Authority determined that the image in the ad was likely to be understood by consumers to mean that Martin Lewis had endorsed the advertiser’s service. Moreover, the lack of any other information providing context to the use of the image implied Martin Lewis had specifically endorsed Sterling Partnership, which was not the case.

The ASA therefore concluded that the ad was misleading. In particular, the ad breached the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading Advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.45 (Endorsements and testimonials).

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. The ASA told Sterling Partnership Ltd to ensure they did not imply their service had been endorsed by any specific individual unless that was the case.

In June this year, the ASA upheld a complaint against Learn to Trade Ltd, ruling that the claims in one of its ads for a Forex seminar were misleading, unsubstantiated and exaggerated.

The ad in question represented a Facebook post for Learn to Trade Ltd, seen on November 22, 2016, stating “Discover how to get your share of the largest and most liquid market in the World. Join us for an educational FREE Forex Seminar Limited seats- Book Now! Learn the Secrets of Successful Professional Trading. Learn the power of compounding or how to make £3.5 million over the next 15 years…”. The ASA has ruled that the ad must not appear in its current form.

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