Complaint over TV ad that ‘questions the reputation’ of dealers

Time 10:46 am, August 18, 2016

MOBILE network operator O2 has recently been airing a television advert to extol the virtues of its guaranteed second-hand phone handsets – but it has left some car dealers unhappy.

Drawing parallels with a ‘dodgy used car’, the advert depicts a woman who has bought a mobile phone from the internet, making special mention of how unreliable second-hand items can turn out to be despite their attractive price.

The woman is shown being woken up by her fractious mobile phone – which is shown as a model of a Ford Focus – along with being embarrassed by its alarm going off in the theatre and pouring a quart of oil out of her handbag.

The analogy hasn’t gone down well with Leo Nelson, marketing director of Car Shop – winners of the Used Car Supermarket of the Year prize at the 2015 Used Car Awards – who has submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority over the implications made regarding used cars in the advert.

In his complaint, Nelson notes that: ‘The advert makes reference in the form of an analogy to ‘‘used cars’’ and in doing so suggests that all used car product is poor quality, not checked by retailers and likely to be sold with faults and therefore, should not be trusted by consumers.

‘A direct comparison is made between used cars and used mobile phones. O2 makes the claim that its used mobile phones are of a superior quality because a series of checks are made prior to retailing the product and while making the claim, they suggest this is not the case when purchasing a used car.’

Near the end of the ad, the exasperated woman sees her purchase roll off a kitchen unit and suffer damage – after the narrator cautions that she won’t be able to get a refund.

Nelson’s complaint addresses this too. He added: ‘Used cars, like used mobile phones, are covered by the same English laws relating to the sale of goods (Sale of Goods Act 1974) and consumer rights are protected in an identical way.’

The clearly unimpressed Nelson continues: ‘It is, therefore, grossly unfair of O2 to stereotype in this way, make false and sweeping statements as well as call into question the reputation of an entire industry.’

When we contacted O2 for a comment regarding its advert, a spokesperson told us: ‘We’ve not been notified by the ASA of a complaint. Our Like New campaign focuses on second-hand items from different markets to help consumers understand the proposition and its benefits.’

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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