ASA reprimands unregulated recruitment firm for marketing

Letters: Marketing communications must be clearly identifiable by the envelope

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint about marketing material sent by an employment law business that appeared to be from a public body.

The letter from Avenure Ltd, an unregulated company trading as Employment Law Advice Bureau and HR24 Advice Bureau, was in an envelope marked ‘Private’ at the top left and ‘Important Information’ at the bottom right. It featured a scale of justice logo at the bottom left.

The attached letter had a crest at the top of the letter with the text “HR24 Advisory Bureau Stockport & Manchester”, it says “Confidential” above the recipient’s name and address and “Private and Confidential” with a reference number to the right. – the side of the hand.

The big, bold text then read ‘Government Announcement’, under which it read: “You are invited to attend an important training update for key business owners in Stockport and Manchester. The Government has announced an unprecedented number of new changes to the labor law for 2024…

β€œIt’s essential that you know what changes are coming (and when) so you can prepare and protect your business. To ensure you are meeting your legal obligations, we recommend you join us at the ‘Employer Action Plan 2024’ workshop.”

The letter also states that “due to the government announcement, there will be no fee for this case.”

The complaint challenged whether the ad was clearly identifiable as a marketing communication and made clear its commercial intent.

Aventure told the ASA that the envelope and letter were marked as they were because the contents were intended for the addressee only.

The ASA recorded: “They believed that the use of the ‘scales of justice’ logo on the envelope was not misleading because their business involved justice and there were solicitors and barristers working for the company. The logo was too generic and was used by many different businesses offering various services.”

He argued that having the company’s logo and name at the top of the letter – and also its details at the bottom of the letter – ensured that recipients were immediately aware of who it was from.

The wording ‘Government Notice’ referred to the event on the government’s latest updates on employment law and regulations, Avensur said.

But the ASA disagreed – marketing communications had to be “clearly identifiable as such” from the envelope and here it wasn’t; including Aventure as the return address was not sufficient.

Heading the letter ‘Government Notice’ “implies that the dispatch was from a public body and contained an official announcement”, an impression reinforced by statements that the letter was private and confidential, “which was unusual expression in commercial communications”.

While the crest-like logo at the top of the page included the HR24 Advisory Bureau name, “we considered that many recipients would not be aware that this was a trading name of the Avenure business,” as it was only referred to in small letters at the bottom. .

“Therefore we considered that it was not clear that the letter was sent by a commercial entity providing a service, but instead implied that it was sent by a public body.”

The ASA told Avenure that the ad should not appear in this form again and that it should ensure in future that its marketing communications “were clearly identifiable and made their commercial purpose clear, including by ensuring that envelopes made it clear that they contained a marketing communication”.

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