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Haart under second round of ASA fire

Haart has been banned from using an advert in which it claims to be the leading agent in Cambridge.

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned the Spicerhaart brand from using the regional press advert headlined "Lettings at haart ... the nation's local agent. Proud to be the No. 1 agent in Cambridge. Cambridge's haart". It follows a complaint it received, which challenged whether the claim "No 1 agent in Cambridge" was misleading and whether or not it could be substantiated.

The ASA has concluded that the advert has breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 18.1 and 18.3 (Comparisons with identified competitors and/or their products). In its adjudication, it states that, in the absence of any qualification, consumers would understand the claim "Proud to be the No. 1 agent in Cambridge" to mean that Spicerhaart was the market leader, having let most properties in the area.

In its statement, the ASA says: “We noted that we had not seen robust, comparative evidence to support the claim. Furthermore, we noted the ad did not include qualifying text to explain the basis of the claim and nor did it include a reference or signpost, such as a website or postal address, where consumers could find out more information to verify the basis of that comparative claim.”

In a statement, Spicerhaart says: “The advert was published in error without qualifying text. Future similar claims will be supported by text that makes clear the verified statistical data on which the claim is based.”

It is the second run-in Haart has had with the ASA in the last month. As The Negotiator reported in December, the agency was warned against using misleading direct mail campaigns to win business.

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