The Advertising Standards Agency has banned a TV advert for short-term lender Sunny Loans on the grounds that the APR wasn’t given sufficient prominence.
The advert included a voice over which said “you can turn to Sunny for some emergency cash. You have five days to change your mind, return the money and you won’t have to pay any interest”.
Smaller on-screen text during the scene then stated “Subject to status. T&Cs apply. 18+. Statutory right to cancel unaffected” and “Representative APR 1291%”.
ASA said: “We considered that the voice-over claim “You have five days to change your mind, return the money and you will not have to pay any interest” and the on-screen text in the last scene of the ad “5 days to change your mind” was an incentive to apply for credit as outlined in CONC rule 3.5.7 (1) (c).
“As such, the ad was required to include an RAPR with no less prominence than the incentive to apply for credit.
“The RAPR was shown during two scenes, in white on-screen text on a black background at the bottom of the ad for approximately seven seconds each time and a total of 13.8 seconds, whereas the incentive to apply for credit was presented in the voice-over during the middle of the ad for five seconds and again during the last scene for three seconds.
“It was also shown in bold on-screen white text on a yellow background during the last scene for three seconds.
“We acknowledged that the on-screen text met the technical size requirements of general BCAP [The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising] guidance.
“However, as the incentive was included in the voice-over and in prominent on-screen text in the last scene of the ad, while the RAPR only appeared in text at the bottom of the ad, we concluded that the RAPR had been given less prominence than the incentive to apply for credit, in breach of the code.”
Sunny Loans was banned from using the advert in its current form.
ASA added: “We told Sunny to ensure that they did not suggest that statutory rights given to consumers were distinctive features of their offer.
“We also told them to ensure that the RAPR was given no less prominence than the incentive to apply for credit.”
Scott Greever, managing director at Elevate Credit, responded to the decision.
He said: “While we strongly disagree with the logic in the findings from the ASA, we are making changes to our adverts to address the concerns. While we are honouring the ASA’s position by altering the advert, we would also like to defend the good intentions of the advert and our product.
“Our customer offer of ‘five days to change your mind, return the money and you won’t have to pay any interest’ was challenged as misleading because they understood that there is a statutory right of 14 days to change your mind.
“Sunny’s five days to change your mind feature is something that no other lender in our industry offers. With Sunny, the customer can give the money back and pay no interest, a feature that goes above and beyond their statutory right.
“Under the 14 day right, customers will be charged interest until the loan is returned. The statutory right still applies to our product and our advert currently has a text box which states: ‘statutory right is unaffected’.
“To provide further clarity, we will change the text in our advert to specify that the ‘14 days statutory right is unaffected’.”
He added: “The ASA has also advised that the representative APR (RAPR) was not given adequate prominence in our advert, although no consumers have levied this complaint against us.
“Currently, the RAPR is displayed in a font size 1.5 times larger than the requirement.
“Furthermore, it is displayed for 13.8 seconds of the 30 second long advert, which is more than twice as long as the prescribed timeframe in the ASA’s own policy (Guidance on on-screen text and subtitling in television advertisements).
“While our current display of RAPR goes above and beyond the ASA’s requirements; we are increasing the display time to 16 seconds to provide more clarity and transparency to consumers.”