Advertising Standards Authority Adjudication

12 March 2008


Zara
20 Albion Street
Broadstairs
Kent
CT10 1LU

Freya
20 Albion Street
Broadstairs
Kent
CT10 1LU

Number of complaints: 1

Ad

Two magazine ads, for psychic services, which appeared in the same publication.

a. Text in the first ad stated "ZARA UK'S PREMIER PSYCHIC ADVISOR ALL YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED AS SEEN ON TV ... POWERFUL SPELLS AVAILABLE ... I will cast a spell to grant your wish!" Small print under a telephone number stated "Convenient Pay By Telephone Service (24hrs)".

b. Text in the second ad stated "FREYA ... Inspired Psychic Predictions & Powerful Spells! Love Money Career Health & Family Concerns For Every Problem There Is A Solution ...".

Issue

The complainant, an ex-employee, challenged whether:

1. the ads were misleading, because they did not make clear that callers to both Zara and Freya would speak to the same people;

2. the claim "ZARA UK'S PREMIER PSYCHIC ADVISOR ..." in ad (a) was misleading, because she believed callers would not be able to speak to 'Zara'; and

3. the claim "... AS SEEN ON TV ..." in ad (a) could be substantiated.

The ASA challenged whether:

4. the claims "POWERFUL SPELLS ... I will cast a spell to grant your wish!" in ad (a) and "Powerful Spells Love Money Career Health & Family Concerns For Every Problem There Is A Solution!" in ad (b) were misleading and implied that the spells would be successful; and

5. the claim "PREMIER PSYCHIC ADVISOR" in ad (a) could be substantiated.

The CAP Code: 3.1;7.1;6.1

Response

1. Zara said 'Zara' was her 'psychic' name and trade name and therefore the name used in her ads. She said she was also a practising Wiccan and had a magical name, 'Freya'. She asserted that the Freya ad was aimed at those who had a specific interest in witchcraft. She asserted that no attempt was made to mislead and either her or her telephone operators were always honest about who was available; she said she always dealt with spell enquires herself.

2. Zara asserted that she did not speak to everyone who called but she did try and speak to as many people as possible. She asserted that if someone requested to speak to her directly she would always try to speak to them; if she was unavailable she would try to call them back as soon as possible.

3. Zara said she had featured in various TV programmes in the UK and USA over many years including ITV's 'Where There's Life', BBC's 'Wogan' and Channel 4's 'Big Breakfast'. Zara said she was still regularly contacted by the media.

4. Zara argued that her spells were powerful in that they harnessed positive energy and provided a focus through which her clients could instigate positive changes in their lives. She said everything in her spells was authentic: oils, powders, incense. She asserted that she used them to bring about positive changes in her clients lives and that her spells were 'powerful' in every sense of the word. Zara believed that the phrase "for every problem there is a solution" was a well-known saying. She maintained that there was a solution for every problem, if people looked for it. She said her role was to empower individuals and enable them to find solutions for themselves; she tried to inspire and uplift her clients. She said her main function was to find solutions in respect of problems and to help people to help themselves. She asserted that the terms 'Love, money, career, health & family concerns' referred to the various areas of clients' lives about which she was frequently consulted and tried to help resolve.

5. Zara said that, although there were other clairvoyants and clairvoyant services of good quality, she believed her experience of over 30 years practice and no previous complaint about her advertising or the quality of the service she provided, showed she was at the forefront of her profession. She argued that the word "premier" meant leading and claimed she was a leader in her field; she maintained she had been around longer than most other people in the industry.

Assessment

1. Upheld
The ASA noted the ads for Zara and Freya offered similar services and spells and appeared in the same publication. We considered that the ads suggested that they were for separate psychic services and therefore exaggerated the choice for readers, some of whom might want to ring more than one psychic service for advice, a prediction or a spell. On that basis, we concluded that the ads were misleading.

On this point, the ads breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 6.1 (Honesty) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

2. Upheld
We considered that readers were likely to understand the claim "ZARA UK'S PREMIER PSYCHIC ADVISOR", particularly in conjunction with the claims "I will cast a spell to grant your wish" and "AS SEEN ON TV" to mean that they would speak personally to 'Zara'. We noted the service was available 24 hours a day and that the ad stated "Convenient Pay By Telephone Service (24hrs)" but considered that the overall impression of the ad was that callers would speak directly to 'Zara'. We noted that Zara did not speak to all callers and considered that the ad was therefore misleading.

On this point, ad (a) breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

3. Upheld
We noted Zara's assertion that she had appeared on numerous TV programmes. However, we noted the television programmes she listed were a number of years old having last been broadcast in 1989, 1992 and 2002. When we requested details of when she appeared on these programmes, Zara was not able to provide the information. We considered that the ad gave the impression that Zara appeared on TV recently. However, as we had not seen evidence to show that, we concluded the claim was likely to mislead.

On this point, ad (a) breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

4. Upheld
We considered that the claims "POWERFUL SPELLS ... I will cast a spell to grant your wish!" and "Powerful Spells Love Money Career Health & Family Concerns For Every Problem There Is A Solution!" were likely to be interpreted to mean that Zara and Freya's spells would be successful and would solve all problems and improve the health, wealth, love life, happiness or other circumstances of readers. We noted Zara's assertion that her spells could achieve that but considered that, because there was no evidence to support that, the claims were misleading.

On this point, the ads breached CAP Code clauses 6.1 (Honesty) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

5. Upheld
We considered that the claim "PREMIER PSYCHIC ADVISOR" implied that Zara offered an objectively superior service to all other psychic advisors. We noted Zara's assertion that she had been operating longer than most other psychic advisors but considered that, because we had seen no comparative evidence to show that Zara offered an objectively superior service to all other psychic advisors, the claim was misleading.

On this point, the ads breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

Action

We told Zara to state clearly both trading names, Zara and Freya, in both of her ads if she published ads in the same publication. We also told her to remove the claims "UK'S PREMIER PSYCHIC ADVISOR", "AS SEEN ON TV ...", "POWERFUL SPELLS ... I will cast a spell to grant your wish!" and "Powerful Spells Love Money Career Health & Family Concerns For Every Problem There Is A Solution!". We advised Zara to seek advice from the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising in future.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)


Advertising Standards Authority,
Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6QT, United Kingdom

This article was posted on August 8, 2007.

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