When an advertiser needs to disclose terms and conditions in a print advertisement to avoid it being misleading, the usual method is to put an asterisk next to the claim being qualified and linking it to small print at the bottom of the ad.
But ASIC has now expressed the view that (in respect of financial services ads at least ) when the claim being qualified is made in the headline, an asterisk is inadequate.
BankWest’s advertising campaign for the BankWest Lite MasterCard referred to an interest rate
of 8.99 per cent per annum without disclosing adequately or prominently
enough that the rate excluded cash advances, which attract an interest
rate of 19.99 per cent per annum.
After being queried by ASIC, BankWest has agreed to add the specific statement
‘excludes cash advances’ to its headline claims regarding the 8.99 per
cent per annum interest rate following discussions with ASIC.
ASIC has announced that in giving effect to these changes, BankWest will:
- cease its existing television campaign;
- amend all relevant print marketing material and remove existing print material from circulation and display; and
- amend its Lite Mastercard website and all web-based advertising.
ASIC’s Executive Director, Consumer Protection, Mr
Greg Tanzer said it was ASIC’s view that when a headline claim is made
about an interest rate (or fee or charge), any exclusions or
qualifications to the headline claim must be contained within the
headline claim itself. If not, such exclusions or qualifications must
be very clearly or prominently noted.