International Regulatory Action on American Express
A TV ad for American Express, seen in April 2017, featured animations of different situations that could result in unexpected spending, such as a plumbing leak and dropping a mobile phone in water. A voice-over stated, “Sometimes we have to pay for things we don’t actually like. But there is an upside to everything. There is a card that could give you 5% cashback on all purchases. Even the ones that didn’t go to plan. So switch now to the American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card. Search Amex Cashback.” On-screen small print stated “Minimum annual spend for cashback eligibility is £3,000. 5% cashback in your first three months of Card membership. Maximum £100. Up to 1% cashback thereafter”.
Two complainants challenged whether the claim “There is a card that could give you 5% cashback on all purchases” was misleading and exaggerated the cashback offer.
American Express Services Europe Ltd said that clients who connected and were affirmed would get 5% cashback on the majority of their buys made utilizing the card for the initial three months of card participation. After that period they would get up to 1% cashback. There were no prohibitions in connection to various sorts of buys made when a client would not gain cashback, either at the introductory rate or after the three-month period ended.
American Express said that the promotion ought to be seen from the point of view of the normal purchaser. They didn’t consider that customers would comprehend the claim “There is a card that could give you 5% cashback on all buys” as a flat out claim. The voice-over expressed, “There is a card that could (emphasis added) give you 5% cashback on all buys”. It was intended to work in blend with the illustrative data that showed up at the base of the screen in the meantime as the claim was made in the voice-over. Content expressing “Terms, prohibitions and constraints apply” showed up in strong nearby the APR and further content expressing “5% cashback in your initial 3 months of participation”, and they trusted the watcher’s eye would be attracted to this data. The capability at the base of the screen likewise clarified the base spend necessity, the point of confinement to the measure of cashback that could be earned, and what clients couldn’t gain cashback on. American Express considered that this data was adequately unmistakable and cleared up the feature guarantee, yet did not negate it. They didn’t trust that the promotion was deceiving or that it misrepresented the cashback offer. They said that it was regular industry rehearse for cashback offers to contain those sorts of clarification.
Clearcast said that they had checked on the advertisement at content stage and requested that American Express change the claim to state “could”. They had likewise requested that they change the voice-over to clarify that the offer was just accessible to new clients. Clearcast considered that the blend of the voice-over, and the strong content and key terms, rejections and confinements set out in the on-screen content made it clear that “5% cashback on all buys” was not an outright case
The voice over stated “There is a card that could give you 5% cashback on all purchases” which was considered as misleading statement by Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The authority considered that consumers would understand this to mean that they would be able to get 5% cashback on all purchases when using the card. We noted that the 5% cashback offer was only available for the first three months of membership. Furthermore, the amount of cashback that could be earned was limited to £100, and customers would only be eligible to receive it if they spent a minimum of £3,000 in the card membership year. These were significant limitations, and consumers would need to consider them in combination in order to make a decision to apply for the card. We noted that text explaining the limitations appeared on-screen when the headline claim was spoken in the voice-over. However, the font was small and the text describing the significant conditions was situated within a larger block. We considered that the qualification was not sufficient to override the impression given by the headline claim that customers would be able to get 5% cashback on all purchases without limitations. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading
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