Advertising complaint upheld against West Auckland Trusts

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against the West Auckland alcohol licensing trusts (the Trusts), ruling that they used misleading language.

The advertisement in question read: "It's working! According to NZTA, West Auckland has the lowest incidence of alcohol-related crashes in the Auckland Council urban zone areas." The message was also spread on the website and in stores.

NZTA principal scientist Paul Graham said that while the actual number of alcohol-related crashes was lower than anywhere else, a higher proportion of crashes in the area were alcohol-related. The ASA found that in this case ‘incidence’ equated to ‘frequency’ and ruled that the "lowest number" and "lowest incidence" had different meanings.

The complaint was laid by resident Nick Smale on behalf of the West Auckland Licensing Trusts Action Group, the organisation behind the petition which is currently circulating in the Western suburbs.

"The Appeal Board noted using data that was six years old, where more up-to-date information was available, created risk for advertisers, particularly if the age of the data is not clear in the advertisement and consumers may believe it to be current."

The Appeal Board ruled that there had been a breach of Basic Principle 4 and Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

"The Appeal Board noted that during the complaints process, the Advertiser had taken self-regulatory action by removing the statements from its website and given an assurance not to repeat them in print media in the current form. The Appeal Board acknowledged the statements had been removed and said the complaint was settled. The Appeal Board therefore ruled the Appeal was Allowed and the Complaint was Settled."