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ASA sinks teeth into channel advertisers

Slapped wrists for Simply, AC Computer Warehouse, Granville, Sage and Eidos

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) minefield exploded in the face of several IT companies this month. Objections were raised to a Simply Computer’s ad in a glossy supplement claiming: "We won’t be beaten on price." Yes, you know the one –- guarantees to refund the price difference if the product was found cheaper at a rival. The ASA decided that the "subject to not selling below our cost price" condition attached to the ad actually invalidated Simply's "cast iron guarantees" on rock bottom prices. AC Computer Warehouse was getting strife for advertising a PC that was "Ready to Go", yet had the Windows 95 software only partially installed which stopped the customer accessing the Web. The computer also came minus a licence and CD-ROM. The complaint was upheld and the offending Cheshire company asked to state the limitations of the product in the ad. Three objections were raised against Granville Technology Group. The only one upheld was against a PC finance package previously advertised in the national press. The ad's "pay nothing until July 1998 Interest Free Credit" claim was misleading because of the conditions which accompanied it were in very small print. These stated this offer was "on home and media models only". The ASA said the type used was tiny and could easily be overlooked. The Lancashire VAR pleaded innocent, saying it had mistakenly run an old ad and that it usually used a larger font in the ads. It was asked to be more vigilant in future. Sage received a slap on the wrist for an advert that implied over a million companies in the UK used its accounting software. It acknowledged the claim was wrong and meant to say over a million companies worldwide. The naughty Tynesiders had also claimed that over 80 per cent of accountants would recommend Sage software. But the survey used was five-years-old. The ASA ruled the report by the Institute of Chartered Accountants "was likely to be out-of-date", and asked Sage to state the date of the survey if they intended to re-use it. Two computer game ads were also deemed either offensive or distressing. The campaigns for Eidos Interactive's Akuji the Heartless and Activision's Tenchu Stealth Assassins were not considered acceptable. Though the games themselves were thoughtfully left to run riot with the minds of the nation's youth. ®

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