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ASA Rules Against Relx

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against vape company Relx for an advert featured on the Daily Motion’s website

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against vape company Relx for an advert featured on the Daily Motion’s website. The advert promoted a reduced-price product but Relx stated that it adopts a responsible advertising policy and doesn’t target non-smokers. The ecig firm were instructed not to use the advert again.

The ASA says Relx’s paid-for advert was seen on the Daily Motion’s website in April and featured an image of four different e-cigarettes, “The ad contained overlaying text which stated ‘£8.99 … £13.98 [cross through ‘£13.98’]’.”

The regulatory body stated that the complainant believed the ad failed to comply with the Code, “because it promoted unlicensed, nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components.”

The ASA reported that Relx (UK) Ltd said it was a responsible business, “committed to preventing young people accessing e-cigarettes. This was evidenced by their memberships of relevant committees in industry trade associations such as the Youth Access Prevention Committee of the UK Vaping Industry Association.

“Their advertising policy was to raise awareness of better alternatives to normal cigarettes among a targeted audience of adult smokers who would otherwise continue to smoke. The ad was delivered by an agency using programmatic software to identify such audiences, while ensuring that non-intended audiences were not targeted. They did not promote nicotine-containing products to non-smokers or former smokers.

“Relx instructed their agency to remove the ad and ensure that any existing and upcoming ads complied with the Code.”

The ASA upheld the complaint as it believes the advert broke CAP Code rule 22.12.

The rule stated that, except for media targeted exclusively to the trade, marketing communications with the direct or indirect effect of promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components which were not licensed as medicines were not permitted in newspapers, magazines and periodicals; or in online media and some other forms of electronic media. It further stated that factual claims about products were permitted on marketers’ own websites and, in certain circumstances, in other non-paid-for space online under the marketer’s control.”

The ASA acknowledged Relx’s comments regarding its memberships and advertising policy. “However,” the ASA said, “the paid-for ad on the Daily Motion website was not targeted exclusively to the trade and prominently featured four nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, which were not licensed as medicines. The ad featured the Relx logo and an image of e-cigarettes and was published in online media which we considered was promotional.

“We welcomed Relx’s assurance that the ad had been removed and that existing and upcoming advertising would abide by the Code. However, since the ad had the direct or indirect effect of promoting e-cigarettes which were not licensed as medicines in non-permitted media, we concluded that it breached the Code.”

The ASA instructed Relx to not use the advert again “in the form complained of”.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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