The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has warned Tottenham Hotspur to ‘avoid making claims in future advertising that they cannot fulfil’ following complaints from a rival fan.

Tottenham Hotspur recently advertised their new stadium as “the only place to watch UEFA Champions League in London” and warned fans that time was running out to purchase premium seats. However, due to building delays, Tottenham’s new stadium will not open until at least January 2019 and, as such, all of its Champions League group stage home matches will be played at Wembley Stadium.

The ASA considered the challenge that the club’s ad was misleading and that given the overrunning works it was unlikely that Spurs fans would in fact be able to watch the Champions League at its new stadium this season.

Whilst the ASA did not launch a full formal investigation it confirmed that following an assessment it has issued a note to the London club advising them to ensure that the advertisement is removed, and to avoid making further such claims in future to prevent disappointing customers.

This matter is a useful reminder for advertisers that they must follow the ASA’s UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) for non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications, or risk being hit with similar advice notices, or harsher enforcement actions such as formal rulings, as well as negative press coverage about their ads.

The CAP Code’s rules on misleading advertising are wide in scope and advertisers are encouraged to have regard to the impression created by their ads as well as any specific claims they make. The ASA state that in respect of allegations of misleading advertising they will ‘rule on the basis of the likely effect on consumers not the marketer's intentions’.

Advertisers unsure whether their advertisements comply with the CAP Code should seek legal advice early on to avoid incurring wasted costs and time. Seeking legal advice is also encouraged where a formal complaint is made to the ASA regarding any of your business’ advertisements, as this can ensure any subsequent investigations are rigorously and appropriately defended.

Brabners can advise on ASA and CAP issues including liaising with the ASA over any complaints or investigations