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Recent Complaint Case Summaries

Overview

The following are case summaries of consumer complaints about advertising that were recently upheld by Standards Councils (Councils). Councils are composed of senior advertising industry and public representatives, who volunteer their time to adjudicate consumer complaints under the provisions of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code).

The case summaries are divided into two sections.

Identified Cases

This section identifies the involved advertisers and provides details about consumers’ complaints regarding advertisements that were found by Council to contravene the Code. In this section, the advertising in question was not withdrawn or amended before Council met to deliberate on the complaint. Where provided, an “Advertiser’s Statement” is included in the case summary.

Non-Identified Cases

This section summarizes consumer complaints upheld by Council without identifying the advertiser or the advertisement. In these cases, the advertiser either withdrew, permanently retired, or appropriately amended the advertisement in question after being advised by Advertising Standards Canada that a complaint had been received, but before the matter was adjudicated by Council.

As required by the Code, retail advertisers also ran timely corrective advertisements in consumer-oriented media that reached the same consumers to whom the original advertising was directed.

For information about the Code and the Consumer Complaint Procedure, select the following links:

Canadian Code of Advertising Standards
Consumer Complaint Procedure


Identified Cases - January 1, 2018 - Jun 21, 2018
Canadian Code of Advertising Standards

Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Domino’s Pizza of Canada Ltd.
Industry: Leisure services - Restaurants and bars
Region: Manitoba
Media: Direct Marketing - Post
Complaint(s): 1
Description: The advertiser offered a large 2-topping pizza and 2 litre beverage for $10.99. To redeem the offer, a coupon code had to be entered when ordering online. The coupon did not indicate the effective start date of the offer.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the advertisement was misleading because he was unable to successfully order the advertised pizza and beverage even after properly entering the coupon code.
Decision: The advertiser acknowledged the complainant must have received and acted on the advertised offer one day earlier than the intended (but undisclosed) start date. Based on the facts, Council found that the advertisement omitted relevant information about the start date for the promotion.
Infraction: Clause 1(c).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 8: Professional or Scientific Claims

Advertiser: The Save Movement
Industry: Non-commercial - Other
Region: Ontario
Media: Out-of-Home - Billboard, Poster, Transit
Complaint(s): 1
Description: Three transit advertisements entitled “Just Like Us” included photographs of chickens, cows and pigs being contained in deplorable conditions. The advertisements also described how animals such as these are mistreated by the meat and dairy industries.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that many of the statements in the advertisements were misleading, particularly regarding how the animals are mistreated by industry.
Decision: Council understood it was not uncommon that cows, pigs and chickens intended for human consumption are raised and held under distressing conditions. However, the language and graphic images employed in these advertisements conveyed to Council the general impression that animal cruelty and abuse not only exists, but is universally and without exception the practice within the Canadian meat and dairy industries. However, the advertiser provided no evidence to substantiate this overall impression. Council concluded, therefore, that the particularly broad, unqualified and unsupported claims made in the advertising were misleading.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a), (e) and 8.


Clause 14: Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals

Advertiser: Vancouver Home Solutions Ltd.
Industry: House maintenance services
Region: British Columbia
Media: Out-of-Home - Billboard, Poster, Transit
Complaint(s): 1
Description: The advertising on an outside wall of the advertiser’s office was comprised of four separate parts, each one featuring a different aspect of the advertiser’s services in constructing bathrooms, kitchens and glass railings. In three of the four parts of the advertisement there were no people shown or visible. However, the part that illustrated the “kitchen” prominently featured a woman against a brick wall in a kitchen.
Complaint: The complainant alleged the part of the advertising that showed a woman in a kitchen was sexist and demeaning to women.
Decision: Council agreed with the complainant that by featuring a woman alone in the kitchen, the advertising conveyed the impression that ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’. Council, therefore, found that the advertisement was demeaning to women.
Infraction: Clause 14 (c).




Non-Identified Cases - January 1, 2018 - Jun 21, 2018
Canadian Code of Advertising Standards

Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Online Daily Deal Company
Industry: Retail (Supermarkets, Dept stores etc.)
Region: National
Media: Direct Marketing - eMail, SMS, MMS
Complaint(s): 1
Description: A gift card worth five dollars when redeemed at a well-known coffee shop was advertised for three dollars.
Complaint: The complainant alleged the advertisement was misleading because the advertiser did not fulfil the gift card purchase order, as advertised.
Decision: Based on the uncontested facts with which the advertiser did not disagree, Council found that the advertisement was misleading. The advertiser is not identified in this case summary because the advertisement was withdrawn before Council met to adjudicate the complaint.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a).


Clause 2: Disguised Advertising Techniques

Advertiser: Automobile Dealer
Industry: Cars and motorized vehicles – General
Region: Alberta
Media: Direct Marketing - Post
Complaint(s): 1
Description: A direct mail advertisement came to the complainant inside an envelope on which the words “Urgent” and “Community Support Program” were prominently printed. The advertisement itself was in the form of a letter that read: “You have been selected for the [Dealer] Community Support Program”. The advertisement also stated that: “Through this program, [Dealer] is offering $16,000,000.00 to the community to help families like yours reduce the cost of getting a newer and more reliable vehicle.” Attached to the letter was a cheque in the amount of $1,073.83 signed by the dealer and payable to “Future Satisfied Customer.” When presented to the dealership, this cheque purportedly could be used towards the purchase of a new or used vehicle.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the advertisement was disguised to appear as a fundraising campaign by a charitable organization.
Decision: The overall impression conveyed to Council was that the letter was an appeal for funds by a charitable organization. In fact, it was a commercial sales promotion. Council, therefore, found that the advertisement was misleading and was presented in a format or style that concealed its commercial intent. The advertiser is not identified in this case summary because the advertisement was withdrawn before Council met to adjudicate the complaint.
Infraction: Clause 2.