Just when you think you’ve heard everything possible about Brexit, here’s another story to add to the collection. Payday lender, Peachy, has been scolded by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for one of its adverts which used the political situation to scare people into applying.
Brexit has barely been out of the news in recent
months, and with the future still uncertain Peachy chose to prey on the fears
of the public. The ASA has criticised the lender for the content of its ad and
for applying what it describes as “emotional pressure”.
What did the advert say?
The advert from Peachy hit email boxes back in
January with a campaign that was designed to take full advantage of the
political climate. With uncertainty spiralling and rumours circulating about
possible shortages on the shelves, Peachy seemed to be suggesting that
customers should take out a loan to stockpile food.
The advert from Peachy makes reference to the rumours about food running out and says that they hope it don’t turn out to be true. However, the payday lender goes on to say that having a stockpile is probably a pretty good idea anyway, and that it’s always useful to be "prepared for the worst.”
The email includes a link which allows recipients to apply directly for a loan, directing them to simply click on the button “in case of emergency”. As a final incentive they also offer £5 off for customers who apply before the end of January.
Criticised by the ASA
It’s fair to say that the ASA weren’t impressed with Peachy’s cheeky attempt to exploit the political rumours. Although it acknowledged that the reference to Brexit was “light-hearted” the body came to the conclusion that a serious political situation was being used to gain leverage to put “inappropriate” pressure on consumers.
The ASA ruled that the overall effect was
unacceptable, and could ultimately lead to families taking out loans they
couldn’t afford to repay because they were scared they might run out of food.
The ad was deemed to have broken two of the
rules in the ASA’s Code of Conduct including Harm and Offence (4.2) and
Responsible Advertising (1.3). As a result, Peachy has been told by the
regulator that the ad campaign must not be repeated and that future ads must
not apply the same kind of “emotional pressure”.
Peachy stand firm
Despite the telling-off from the regulator,
Peachy has defended the use of its advert, claiming that the intent has been
Katre Kaarenperk, the head of marketing for the
payday lender, insisted that they had not been trying to intimidate customers
into taking out a loan. Pointing out that short term/high cost credit isn’t
suitable to clear debt problems, Kaarenperk said that Brexit was only mentioned
to draw a parallel and highlight the uncertainties that life can bring.
The firm also claimed that only one person had
complained, and that single complaint was the basis for the ASA investigation.