Voucher Advert Banned

November 25th, 2011
Voucher Advert Banned

An advert that offered discounted surgery for breast enlargement has been banned.

The voucher, which came as part of an email campaign, was considered to be placing pressure on potential consumers.

The email advert is part of a concerted marketing campaign by the US based Groupon company, which now operates in Britain. This particular business offers coupons on a wide range of products and services including cosmetic surgery procedures.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), however, disapproved of the email advert, stating that consumers had to click on the fine print in order to discover important qualifying information, such as who could use the coupon. This information should not be hidden away according to the ASA.

The ASA also said it had received complaints from both a member of the public and the Independent Healthcare Advisory Service. The latter told reporters: “[Groupon was irresponsible] because it encouraged recipients to hurry into a decision to purchase cosmetic surgery.”

The ASA agreed.

Groupon, however, contests this. A spokesperson for the company said: “[They did not believe the offer] encouraged a frivolous or rushed decision to purchase the voucher.”

The company added: “The coupon was] an indicator of their business model and was not indicative of pressure purchase tactics.”

In Britain the advertising industry has some of the strongest codes of practice found in any industry. Anyone advertising their services must ensure they comply both with the spirit, as well as the wording of the code, when creating adverts or devising promotions. Groupon failed to comply with these regulations, which meant the advert was banned.

The ASA said: “We considered that the decision to undergo physically invasive procedures was one that required substantial consideration,” said the ASA. “We noted consumers only had 24 hours in which to buy the voucher and because of that, we considered that consumers buying the voucher would have already financially and mentally committed themselves to going ahead with a procedure.”

Groupon agreed to change the details of their advert to ensure it complied with the ASA ruling. A spokesperson said: “We have moved quickly to address the ASA ruling and have already changed subsequent plastic surgery deals to extend the period they are available for.

Groupon endeavours to ensure that all of our advertised deals meet the highest possible standards and are both responsible and provide clear information for our customers.

We are always striving to make the Groupon experience the best it can be and to ensure that the deals we offer are great value for our customers.”


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