Littlewoods ad broke rules, says ASA'Irresponsible' ad encouraged high life on credit

09 January 2008

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A leaflet sent to 75,000 Littlewoods group customers broke advertising rules by encouraging young women to spend excessively on credit, a watchdog said today.

The Direct Plus Account mailshot said customers could order items from the Additions Direct catalogue without paying upfront.

'Hot dates won't wait 'til payday. By the time you can afford that sexy new outfit Mr Right (or Mr Right Now!) could be long gone,' the leaflet said.

'Why let money come between you and a good time? Direct Plus Account lets you spread the cost of your new designer jeans so you've got more cash to spend having fun...' it added.

APR

Text on the first and final pages of the mailing said the account had a 'typical 29.8% APR variable'.

After investigating a complaint logged in October, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the leaflet broke rules relating to responsible advertising.

'The ASA considered the ad portrayed a young woman living a glamorous lifestyle on credit, buying whatever she wanted whenever she wanted and being the envy of her friends,' the watchdog said.

'Carefree spending'

It said the advert was designed to appeal particularly to young women and risked encouraging carefree spending.

The ASA ruled: 'Notwithstanding the inclusion of the typical APR, we considered that, by portraying an aspirational lifestyle purchased impulsively on credit, the ad was likely to be seen as encouraging young women to spend excessively on a credit account and, as such, was irresponsible.'

Shop Direct Financial Services (SDFS) said its mailing had been sent to around 75,000 Additions Direct customers over the age of 18.

Littlewoods Group

It said the animated format of the leaflet was meant to show the benefits of the credit account in a fun, informative way.

SDFS believed the advert complied with all relevant consumer protection legislation.

A spokeswoman at Littlewoods Shop Direct Group said SDFS became part of the Littlewoods group around three years ago.

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