Bike trade advertisers rapped on the knuckles by ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority of the UK has today published its regular summary report listing those advertisers who have staged print campaigns that received complaints. In volume 2 issue 2, for the period 6th March to 24th April 2002, it’s revealed that complaints have been upheld against Sterling House, Jim Walker & Co and Arrow Cycles of Lincolnshire
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ARROW CYCLES

In April, Arrow Cycles of North Hykeham, Lincolnshire, placed an advert in a local events and services magazine. The ad claimed that Arrow Cycles was "HYKEHAM'S ONLY CYCLE SHOP", and the word "only" was underlined.

Rival shop Vulcan Cycles (incorporating Teddybear Baby Ware) objected to the ‘only’ because it too sold cycles and was located in Hykeham.

The complaint was upheld. Arrow Cycles told the ASA that the advertisement should have had the word ‘cycle’ underlined, making it clear that it was the only shop which specialised in cycles and cycling equipment. Arrow Cycles changed the advertisement after the local Trading Standards department had contacted them on behalf of the complainant to the ASA.

The Authority considered that the advertisement implied Arrow was the only retailer of cycling equipment in the area. Because that was not true, the Authority concluded that the advertisement was misleading and that Arrow shouldseek help from the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team before advertising again.

JIM WALKER & CO. LTD.

The racy ad campaign for John Luck cycling shoes was previewed on this site (see the link below for the racy ad in question) and distributor Jim Walker & Co duly got a consumer complaint upheld by the ASA in March.

A consumer from London objected to a Luck shoe advert which appeared in Cycle Sport magazine.

This showed the naked torso of a woman stretched lengthways across the advertisement; the woman was shown from the side with her front facing downwards. In the bottom right-hand corner, underneath the woman's crotch, was a photograph of a cycling shoe. Above the curve of the woman's bottom was written "YOU'LL LOVE THE FEEL"; underneath the shoe was written "YOU'LL LOVE THE SHOE".

The complainant objected that the advertisement was gratuitous and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Jim Walker told the ASA that the advertisement had been withdrawn because he was “not comfortable with the image.”

IPC, publisher of Cycle Sport, had believed that the advertisement would not offend their readers. They said they had received no complaints. However, the ASA considered that the image was, indeed, likely to cause serious or widespread offence.


STERLING HOUSE The ASA has upheld a complaint about a direct mailing from Sterling House in March.

The mailing was headlined "PRICES CRASH BY UP TO 60% IN MASSIVE CATALOGUE RETURNS SALE" and the body copy stated "The recent global turmoil has resulted in a mountain of unsold bicycles returned from the catalogue giants ... all being secured exclusively by Sterling House for immediate mail order clearance."

The complainant objected that the mailing misleadingly implied that: 1. the advertisers were having a sale and 2. the prices had been lowered because of global turmoil. Sterling House argued that all their mailings contained sale offers and the models on offer depended on the quantity available. They said consumers made savings by buying from them rather than a traditional retailer.

The ASA considered that consumers would infer that the advertisers were offering bicycles at lower prices than they normally did for a limited time, not that the advertisers were offering savings against traditional retailers. The Authority noted, from comparing the prices in the advertisers' summer catalogue with those in their current catalogue, the advertisers had reduced the price of only eight bicycles.

The Authority noted Sterling House had not provided substantiation to prove either that their prices were 60 percent cheaper than traditional retailers or 60 percent cheaper than their usual prices. The ASA concluded that the mailing was misleading in its implication that the prices of all their bicycles had been reduced.

Sterling House had told the ASA that recent world events had caused a downturn in consumer confidence; they argued that drastic action was needed to persuade consumers to spend. Sterling House sent order forms that showed suppliers had tried and failed to cancel shipments of bicycles. The Essex company also said many of those bicycles came to them for clearance. It also sent the ASA articles that discussed the downturn in bicycle sales and the economy and a letter from “a bicycle manufacturer” (Universal perchance?) that stated that cancellations had risen in the previous year.

Sterling House told the ASA that information they had received from sources, including the media, had encouraged them to reduce prices. The Authority considered that the mailing implied that the advertisers had received extra bicycles not sold by others because demand had generally fallen as a result of global turmoil.

The Authority considered that consumers would infer that the advertisers prices had been lowered because of global turmoil. Although the ASA noted that Sterling House had sent some evidence showing a downturn in bicycles sales generally, the Authority considered that they had not sent enough substantiation to justify the implication that the advertisers had received extra bicycles because others had not sold their bicycles as a result of global turmoil. The Authority concluded that the advertisement was misleading in that respect.

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