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Bingley firm Damart criticised for 'misleading' mail
Bingley-based clothing manufacturers Damart broke advertising codes when it sent out mail marked “confidential” and “time sensitive” that turned out to be a prize promotion and catalogues, an advertising watchdog has found.
Today the Advertising Standards Authority published a report into the contentious mail, claiming the Bowling Green Mills-based company had misled recipients over how important it was and broke the Committee of Advertising Practices code.
The company has now admitted it “got some elements wrong” with the promotion.
Mailed to customers in May, the brown envelope containing the catalogue said in bold letters: “Confidential – for the addressee only” and “your time sensitive documents are enclosed.”
But on opening the envelope, recipients were greeted with marketing material for the company rather than urgent documentation.
One complained to the ASA about the mail, claiming the company was attempting to exaggerate its importance, and that it was not obvious it was an advert.
The ASA has ordered Damart not to carry out such marketing again.
In its defence, the company claimed it was clear to anyone who got the letter that it was advertising material and not an important document, and that the company name was on the back of the envelope.
The “time sensitive” documents relate to a prize draw for £51,000 that people had two weeks to apply for.
The ASA ruling said: “The claims gave the impression that the content was official and urgent documentation. Although we understood that there was a response deadline, it was nonetheless unclear from the claim ‘your time sensitive documents are enclosed’ that the urgency related to entry into a prize draw rather than an official deadline.
“We considered that the mailing was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and we therefore concluded that it breached the Code.”
The ASA ruled that Damart must not repeat such a mailing again, and must be more clear that its post is marketing.
The company was also criticised for not specifying when the 14-day time limit started and ended, and the ASA concluded this amounted to misleading advertising.
A spokesman for the company said: “Damart will look closely at the ASA ruling and, of course, abide by its findings.
“Damart has more than a million customers across the UK and we would never want to give any of them cause to complain. We regularly run prize draws and giveaways which, our research shows, are extremely popular. On this occasion, we clearly got some elements wrong and we will make sure that this mailer is not repeated.”