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ASA warns envelopes with marketing must be transparent
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Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:47 am Reply and quote this post
An envelope used in a Virgin Media mailshot broke advertisingrules because it failed to make its marketing nature obvious. Theenvelope should have stated clearly that it contained marketingmaterial, the UK's advertising regulator has ruled.

The letter describing the cable company's broadband offer wassealed in a plain white envelope with no markings to identify thepromoter.
The envelope featured a small hole that went right through theenvelope and some of its contents and was designed to look like abullet hole surrounded by burn marks. Ten people complained to theAdvertising Standards Authority (ASA), saying that the bullet holewould cause offence and distress. The ASA rejected thosecomplaints. It said the hole "was likely to be recognised as astylised design gimmick" and that "recipients would appreciate thatit was unlikely that an envelope would arrive with a bullethole."
The ASA had its own concern, though, about Virgin's failure toidentify the envelope as a promotion.
Small text on the reverse of the envelope provided a PO Boxreturn address but Virgin Media's identity was only revealed torecipients if they opened the letter. In some cases the letter wasaddressed to the recipient; other times it was addressed to "TheOccupier".
The ASA ruled against Virgin Media in an adjudication publishedtoday.
"We concluded that the envelope should have stated clearly thatit contained marketing material to avoid ambiguity or confusionabout the status of the envelope," said the ASA. "On this point,the ad breached CAP Code clause 22.1."
That provision states:
"Marketers, publishers andowners of other media should ensure that marketing communicationsare designed and presented in such a way that it is clear that theyare marketing communications. Unsolicited e-mail marketingcommunications should be clearly identifiable as marketingcommunications without the need to open them."
Virgin was told to ensure that in future mailings envelopesshould state clearly that they contained marketing material.


Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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