Unilever the Telegraph

Unilever advertorial in Telegraph breached code, says ASA


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

November 2, 2011 | 4 min read

An advertorial for Flora pro.activ which appeared in the Telegraph is found to have breached the advertising code for not making it clear that the article was a marketing communication.

The article was viewed on the Telegraph website on 12 July, and was headed "Flora pro.activ: Stepping up the pace. Telegraph journalist Chris Jones tried Flora pro.activ and brisk walks to lower cholesterol". Under the heading was a photograph of Chris Jones walking in the park. Text under the photograph stated "Walk this way: Chris did a daily lap of her local park to exercise. Text in the top right-hand corner stated "in association with Flora pro.activ".

The main body of the article featured the journalist’s experience changing her diet and exercise routine while drinking Flora pro.activ every day, with text in bold at the bottom of the ad stated "If you'd like to read more inspiring stories and useful information about how Flora pro.activ can help lower your cholesterol, visit floraproactiv.co.uk".

A complaint was made that the ad was misleading because it resembled a news article written by a journalist and did not make clear that it was a marketing communication.

Unilever said it was very common for advertisement features to have a journalistic style. They said that the top left-hand side of the feature stated "Flora pro.activ" and the top right-hand side stated "in association with Flora pro.activ". They said they felt those headings adequately identified that the feature was an ad, in line with CAP guidance on such features.

The Telegraph also highlighted the two headings at the top of the ad, and added that the last line of the feature invited readers to visit the Flora pro.activ website to view more content about the product. They said they considered that, together, was more than adequate to clearly identify the content as commercial.

The ASA noted that a web-link above the main title of the advertorial stated "Flora pro.activ", but considered that did not make clear that the feature was an advertorial. It acknowledged that the other heading stated "in association with Flora pro.activ", but considered that, because it appeared to the far right-hand side of the webpage above listings for other cholesterol-related articles, with a line dividing that part of the page from the advertorial, it was not clear that the heading related to the ad.

The body said: “We noted that the advertorial was written in the style of a health and lifestyle piece, and we considered that the overall impression of the ad was that it was an article written independently by a Telegraph journalist. We noted that the title, sub-title and text at the end of the ad referred to Flora pro-activ, but considered that those references were not sufficient to counter the overall impression created by the advertorial, or mean that it was clearly identifiable as a marketing communication. We also noted the page viewing figures provided by the Telegraph, but considered that did not necessarily demonstrate that only the complainant had considered it was not clear that the feature was an advertorial. We considered it was likely that, if a visitor to the page had not identified the feature as an advertorial, they would not have raised a complaint because they would have understood that the feature was a health and lifestyle piece.

“Because we considered the ad did not make clear that it was a marketing communication, we concluded the ad was misleading and breached the Code.

“The ad breached CAP Code rules 2.1, 2.4 (Recognition of marketing communications), 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).”

Unilever the Telegraph

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