From margarine to a bank: Advertising body still clamping down on misleading ads, despite challenges

27 November 2018 - 06:00 By Ntokozo Miya
The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB), formerly the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has ruled that Rama Original cannot be labelled "margarine".
The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB), formerly the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has ruled that Rama Original cannot be labelled "margarine".
Image: 123rf/ yelenayemchuk

The Advertising Standards Authority may have been liquidated, but it still packs a mean punch.

According to BusinessLIVE, the advertising regulatory body went into liquidation in October. 

It now has a new organisational structure and is known as the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB). 

The financial challenges and subsequent changes have in no way weakened the organisation’s influence in the advertising space. These are some of the rulings the regulatory body handed down in 2018.

Checkers’ Rama advert

On Friday, TimesLIVE reported that Checkers had been ordered to amend a catalogue in which Rama Original was labelled as margarine. 

This came after a complaint from Dave Bennett, who argued that Rama Original could not be called margarine as it contained more than 16% water. 

According to Bennett, a product qualified as “yellow margarine” if it contained no more than 16% water. 

Checkers resolved to cease advertising Rama Original as margarine, a resolution which was welcomed by the ARB. 

KFC “Lunchbox” TV ad

After a viewer complained that a KFC advert featuring music duo Destruction Boyz normalised car-spinning, the ARB agreed and banned the promo.

The complainant said people had died because of this “dangerous activity”.

KFC argued that the car-spinning scene was recorded in a controlled environment and barricades were used during filming. The fast-food franchise said it had also used the services of a professional driver.

The ARB ruled in favour of the complainant and banned the advert. 

“The entire set-up looks like an amateur event that has been put together by amateurs, and not like a sporting event,” said the ARB.

Capitec not-so-free banking

Banks are not immune to the authority of the ARB, with Capitec learning a lesson in September.

According to TimesLIVE, Stephen Wall was not impressed when he got a text from Capitec, with whom he had signed up to enjoy “free” banking.

The text read: “Mr Wall, your June fees: R64.75. Interest earned: R1,846.30. Well done! By earning more interest than your bank fees, you banked for free.”

Wall’s argument was that Capitec had paid him R64.75 less than the interest he would have earned.

The ARB agreed with Wall. 

“The fact that the bank charges are less than the interest does not mean that the customer banked for free,” said the ARB.

Capitec did not defend the matter.

Misleading Tupperware advert

In June, TimesLIVE reported that the advertising authority ordered Tupperware Southern Africa to withdraw an advert which appeared in its brochure.

This followed a complaint about items that were advertised as “free” if a customer took an offer for the “Space Saver Oval Set” for R399. 

A price table in the advert showed that the price of all the items in the set, including the ones that were promoted as freebies, worked out to R399. Actually, none of the items in the deal was “free”.

The ARB concluded: “In the context of the sale pricing, which is the only pricing on the advertising, the remaining items are indeed not ‘free’.”

Dischem and the exaggerated discount

Dischem got its taste of ARB medicine in September after it inflated the advertised discount on an item.

The advert read: “Purity pouches, 110ml assorted. Save R20.65. R9.95 each. Available in-store.”

This implied that Purity pouches are normally priced at R30.60.

Mohammed Belin brought to the ARB’s attention the fact that the normal price for Purity pouches at Dischem is R9.99. This means the actual discount was 4c.

Dischem blamed its marketing team for the mistake and said it never intended “to mislead the public”.

With its new management team and vigorous efforts to secure financial support from its members, the ARB aims to be an even more effective watchdog in the advertising industry.