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Financial ads prompted 320 complaints last year, says Beachcroft

The Advertising Standards Authority received 320 complaints about 220 financial promotions in 2008, according to figures obtained by commercial law firm Beachcroft LLP.

Beachcroft says a focus by compliance officers on approving financial ad campaigns by reference only to the FSA Handbook means “devastating risks” are being overlooked.

The law firm says that other substantive controls designed to protect the consumer, set by bodies such as the Advertising Standards Authority, may be being missed.

Beachcroft says consumers often complaint to the ASA, rather than the FSA, about advertising standards. The ASA recently forced GoCompare.com to withdraw an ad campaign and prohibited it from being shown in the same form.

Beachcroft partner Robin Fry says: “Consumers are extremely ready to complain but it’s clear that, for many, their first port of call is now to the ASA rather than the FSA. In considering whether an advertisement or promotion is in fact fully-cleared, compliance needs to accommodate over 20 sets of laws ranging from the FSA’s principles, to copyright, to the use of pictures of bank notes.

“The list is getting longer each year and, with the business always pushing for more imaginative advertising, a traditional approval that a promotion is simply ‘fair, clear and not misleading’ may not be enough. Focus on the FSA rules alone will miss other restrictions with the devastating risk that carefully-developed TV and press advertising has to be withdrawn mid-campaign.”

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