Directors of the Tauranga City Council controlled organisation Tauranga City Aquatics Ltd have been found responsible for printing a misleading advertisement about the Mount Hot Pools redevelopment project.
The complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority against the advertisement has been upheld on appeal.
The Advertising Standards Authority have upheld an appeal on an advertisement for Tauranga City Aquatics Limited.
The advertisement prepared by Village PR, appeared in a Tauranga daily paper on July 30, 2011 under a TCAL letter head, entitled “The redevelopment of the Mount Hot Pool must go ahead”.
Tauranga accountant Ian Stevenson complained the advertisement breached a number of advertising codes as it was untruthful and misleading. The identity of the advertiser was not clear and the advertisement relied on unsubstantiated claims.
The advertisement in the form of an open letter stated it was paid for by four TCAL directors, former chairman Warren Banks, Shirley Baker, Michael King and Hemi Rolleston.
Warren Banks and Michael King have since resigned from the board.
He also complained about false statements in the advertisement, including a claim that TCAL took over aged aquatics facilities in 2005 – the same year that Baywave was opened.
TCAL did not take over the management of the facilities until 2009 when Leisure Co was placed in receivership in June 2009.
The Advertising Complaints Board’s ruling in November was that the complaint not be upheld. This was appealed.
Ian’s appeal challenged TCAL’s statements to the ASA stating TCAL simply regurgitated what was in the advertisement and provided none of the reports claimed to have been used.
He was put fully to the test on his complaint and required to fully cover the reasons and the errors contained in the advertisement and to support the basis for his complaint, while the advertiser produced nothing in rebuttal. The onus on the advertiser to rebut his complaint was not discharged.
The ASA agreed stating in January that the advertiser TCAL has to provide clear and robust evidence to substantiate all claims made in the advertisement and the information provided must be sufficient to enable the complaints board to independently assess the accuracy of the advertised claims made.
When claims are made backed by ‘research’ they had to provide the material to substantiate the claim. The complaints board was directed to reconsider its finding.
In a decision released last week, the ASA now finds the TCAL advertisement breached Basic Principle 3 and Rule 2 of the code of ethics.
It further noted the use of survey could mislead or deceive as detailed results of the surveys referred to in the advertisement had not been presented – breaching Rule 3 of the code of ethics in which advertisements should not use tests or surveys in a manner which is misleading or deceptive.
Basic Principle 3 states no advertisement should be misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive the consumer.
Rule 2 notes advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim, is misleading or deceptive, is likely to mislead the consumer, makes false and misleading representation, abuses the trust of the consumer or exploits his her lack of experience or knowledge.