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Recent Complaint Case Summaries

Overview

The following are case summaries of consumer complaints about advertising that were recently upheld by Standards Councils (Councils). Councils are composed of senior advertising industry and public representatives, who volunteer their time to adjudicate consumer complaints under the provisions of the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code).

The case summaries are divided into two sections.

Identified Cases

This section identifies the involved advertisers and provides details about consumers’ complaints regarding advertisements that were found by Council to contravene the Code. In this section, the advertising in question was not withdrawn or amended before Council met to deliberate on the complaint. Where provided, an “Advertiser’s Statement” is included in the case summary.

Non-Identified Cases

This section summarizes consumer complaints upheld by Council without identifying the advertiser or the advertisement. In these cases, the advertiser either withdrew, permanently retired, or appropriately amended the advertisement in question after being advised by Advertising Standards Canada that a complaint had been received, but before the matter was adjudicated by Council.

As required by the Code, retail advertisers also ran timely corrective advertisements in consumer-oriented media that reached the same consumers to whom the original advertising was directed.

For information about the Code and the Consumer Complaint Procedure, select the following links:

Canadian Code of Advertising Standards
Consumer Complaint Procedure


Identified Cases - January 1, 2017 - Oct 22, 2017
Canadian Code of Advertising Standards

Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Abbott Laboratories, Limited
Industry: Health & beauty - OTC
Region: National
Media: Audio Visual - Traditional televison
Complaint(s): 1
Description: A television commercial for a meal replacement product showed a woman saying: “When I don’t eat enough of what I should, I have Ensure”. A voiceover stated: “After age 40, we lose significant muscle mass each year. Ensure has protein to build muscle and 26 vitamins and minerals.” At this point an animated bicep muscle was shown enlarging significantly and rapidly in size.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the illustration of the degree and speed of muscle growth was exaggerated and misleading.
Decision: In its response to Council the advertiser stated that the animated image of the muscle was used to illustrate the functional role of protein in building muscle and that the claim was clearly linked to that protein function. It appeared to Council, however, that the dramatic increase in muscle growth occurred immediately after the woman consumed the product. Council found that this animated demonstration exaggerated the benefits of the product following consumption, both in terms of the speed with which the muscle enlargement occurred, as well as the degree of muscle enlargement. Council, therefore, found the depiction in the commercial was misleading.
Infraction: Clause 1(a).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Coquitlam Chrysler Jeep Dodge
Industry: Cars and motorized vehicles – General
Region: British Columbia
Media: Direct Marketing - eMail, SMS, MMS
Complaint(s): 1
Description: The opportunity to get a $1,000 Walmart gift card, a chance to win $10,000 and instant prizes, and a $100 gift card was offered by a car dealership in a promotion which the complainant received by email. The email declared that the complainant was an Instant Winner and had won a $1,000 Walmart gift card.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that because the advertiser would not allow him to claim the instant prize, the Instant Win promotion was misleading.
Decision: In Council’s view, the advertisement unequivocally promised the complainant he had won the $1,000 Walmart gift card. Because the dealership would not honour its promise, as advertised, Council found that the advertisement was misleading, omitted relevant information, and did not clearly state all pertinent details of the offer.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a),(b) and (c).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Formeflex
Industry: Retail (Supermarkets, Dept stores etc.)
Region: National
Media: Digital - Marketer - Owned Websites
Complaint(s): 1
Description: A particular type of mattress was advertised on several pages of the advertiser’s website. In many places on the website, the advertiser referred to “100% organic latex” in describing the mattress.
Complaint: The complainant alleged the claims in the advertising regarding “100% organic latex” were misleading.
Decision: Council was aware that on the advertiser’s home page it was stated that “Formeflex is a manufacturer of mattresses made with 100% Organic Latex and Bio Foam”. However, after carefully reviewing the whole website, the overwhelming impression conveyed to Council was that each Formeflex mattress consisted entirely of 100% organic latex. No mention was made of the fact that the mattress also contained bio foam. Because the advertisement omitted relevant information regarding the actual bio foam content of the mattress, Council found that the advertisement was misleading.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a) and (b).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Ghost Rescuer
Industry: Leisure services - Other
Region: British Columbia
Media: Newspapers
Complaint(s): 1
Description: Several advertisements in a community newspaper promoted ghost removal services by a professional ghost rescuer. In one of the advertisements, the ghost rescuer made a number of claims including: “Ghosts have the same energy as your kitchen outlet”; “a ghost is the soul of a person”; and “Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, my services work anyway!”
Complaint: The complainant alleged the advertisements were misleading and that the claims were not supported by competent scientific evidence.
Decision: Council agreed with the complainant, finding that the advertising claims and representations were not supported by competent and reliable evidence, and that, as a result, the advertising contained deceptive or misleading claims.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a) and (e).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Home Hardware Stores Limited
Industry: Retail (Supermarkets, Dept stores etc.)
Region: National
Media: Audio Visual - Traditional televison
Complaint(s): 1
Description: In a television commercial for an infra-red heater, the advertiser claimed that the heater “brings moist, therapeutic heat”.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that this claim was misleading.
Decision: The general impression conveyed to Council by the commercial was that the advertised heater would produce moist air, not unlike the moist air produced by a humidifier. However, the advertiser did not provide evidence that substantiated the claim. Council, therefore, found that the advertised claim was not supported by competent and reliable evidence.
Infraction: Clause 1(d).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Maple Ridge Chrysler Jeep Dodge
Industry: Cars and motorized vehicles – General
Region: British Columbia
Media: Audio Visual - Traditional televison
Complaint(s): 1
Description: In a television commercial, the spokespersons for the advertiser referred to two different individuals who received “cash back” from the automobile dealership when they purchased new vehicles. The two individuals were shown holding oversized cheques in the amounts of $41,000 and $50,000, respectively. The commercial also included a large text super stating “$50,000 Cash Back at 0%”. A disclaimer at the bottom of the commercial advised: “See dealer for details. OAC. On select models only.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the advertisement was misleading because the cash back offers were, in fact, repayable loans.
Decision: The advertiser submitted that the reference in the commercial to “OAC” meant repayable loans, notwithstanding the fact that the commercial repeatedly referred to getting cash back and never referenced “repayable loans”. Moreover, the commercial clearly showed the two individuals holding oversized cheques, as if they had received these cash back payments. In Council’s judgement, the advertising did not communicate the fact that when it emphasized “cash back”, the advertiser actually meant a “loan”. Council, therefore, found that the advertisements were misleading and omitted relevant information.
Infraction: Clause 1(a) and (e).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Rogers
Industry: Financial services
Region: Ontario
Media: Direct Marketing - eMail, SMS, MMS
Complaint(s): 1
Description: A personalized email was sent to the complainant stating that she had been “pre-approved” for a credit card. An asterisk with the words “See Full Details” appeared at the bottom of the advertisement. Upon clicking the link, the recipient was taken to a legal note that stated: ”Subject to credit assessment and income verification.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the phrase “You’re pre-approved” in the advertisement was misleading, because, in fact, the credit card would not be granted unless a favourable credit assessment and income verification was determined.
Decision: The unmistakable impression conveyed to Council by the advertisement was that, as a Rogers customer, the recipient had already been approved for a credit card and only needed to click “Apply Now” to receive the card. The fact that a credit assessment and income verification still had to be undertaken was only disclosed in a separate legal note. Council found that the phrase “pre-approved” was overly broad and was contradicted by the information contained in the legal note. It was Council’s opinion that the need to satisfy the credit assessment and also provide income verification before being granted the credit card should have been prominently disclosed in very close proximity to the “pre-approved” claim when it first appeared in the advertisement. Council, therefore, concluded that the advertisement did not clearly and understandably state all pertinent details of the offer.
Infraction: Clauses 1(c) and (d).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Sears Canada Inc.
Industry: Retail (Supermarkets, Dept stores etc.)
Region: Manitoba
Media: Direct Marketing - eMail, SMS, MMS
Complaint(s): 1
Description: In an advertisement emailed to the complainant, the advertiser offered: “Try any mattress in store and receive $10*. Some restrictions apply. See store for details.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged that staff in the Sears store she visited would not honour the advertised $10 offer.
Decision: In its response to Council, the advertiser stated that consumers would not receive $10 in cash when they ‘tried’ a mattress in a Sears store. Rather they would receive a $10-off coupon applicable to a minimum $25 purchase from Sears. To Council, it was clear from the advertisement that the advertiser promised customers $10 cash for simply trying any in-store mattress, not a $10-off coupon redeemable against a purchase from Sears costing $25 or more. Council, concluded, therefore that the advertisement omitted relevant information and was misleading,
Infraction: Clauses 1 (a) and (b).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: St. Catharines Right to Life
Industry: Non-commercial - Other
Region: Ontario
Media: Out-of-Home - Billboard, Poster, Transit
Complaint(s): 1
Description: Two women were shown side-by-side in a transit advertisement. One woman was obviously pregnant and the other woman was shown holding a baby in her arms. The headline of the advertisement read: “Same Person Inside and Out.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged the advertisement was misleading because a foetus is not legally considered to be a “person”.
Decision: In Council’s judgment, the advertisement unequivocally conveyed the message that a foetus is a “person”. Given that under the Criminal Code of Canada, a “person” begins life not before, but at live birth, Council found that it was inaccurate to claim in the advertisement that an unborn foetus is a “person”, thereby contravening the Code.
Appeal: Following its careful review of the advertising in question and the submissions by both the Complainant and the Advertiser, the Appeal Panel unanimously affirmed Council’s original decision.
Infraction: Clause 1(a).
Advertiser's Verbatim Statement: “The Same Person Inside and Out.” Or not? Someone complained that our bus shelter ad was inaccurate because the law does not recognize what’s in the woman’s womb as a person. The Advertising Standards Council agreed. So what is in the woman’s womb? Is it alive? Is it human? If a live human being, why not a person? Is whatever the law says the final word on what a person is? Canadian law used to deny that women were persons. Did they only become persons when the law said so? American law used to deny that black Americans were persons. Did they only become persons when the law said so? Was it right to stop anyone from questioning those laws that denied women or blacks were persons? Is it right to stop anyone from saying that the child in a woman’s womb is a person?


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: The Lark Group
Industry: Real estate services
Region: British Columbia
Media: Brochures/leaflets/flyers
Complaint(s): 1
Description: A condominium development for seniors in Summerland, British Columbia was advertised in a brochure and in the local newspaper. In the body of the advertising it was stated that “The Fish Hatchery and Aquifer will not be impacted” by the development.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the advertisements were misleading because it was not made clear that the development had not yet been approved by the District of Sutherland and that the “no-impact” claim was not true.
Decision: Council found no disclosure in the newspaper advertisement that the development was subject to approval by authorities. In the case of the brochure, Council found that the disclosure was not clearly legible. On the second issue, Council concluded that the statement “The Fish Hatchery and Aquifer will not be impacted” was misleading and unsupported by the evidence submitted by the advertiser.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a) and (e).
Advertiser's Verbatim Statement: “The Lark Group placed the iCasa Living newspaper ads to generate awareness of the proposed project in the Okanagan region, and our intention was not to mislead the public. We referenced that the ads were not an offering for sale and assumed this would cover the legal aspects of the ads. We apologize for any confusion and will ensure any future ads will be referenced accordingly.”


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: The Separation & Divorce Resource Centre
Industry: Other
Region: Ontario
Media: Digital - Marketer - Owned Websites
Complaint(s): 1
Description: On the website of an individual provider of separation and divorce-related services, the following claims were made: “The Separation and Divorce Centre Inc. is the only center in North America that exclusively specializes in all areas of separation and divorce”. The advertisement also claimed that the advertiser is the “only person in Canada certified by the (original) founder of the workshop to facilitate the Rebuilding Workshop.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the claims were misleading.
Decision: Council found that the information tendered by the advertiser was insufficient to substantiate the very broad claims made in the advertisement.
Infraction: Clause 1(e).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 2: Disguised Advertising Techniques

Advertiser: Federal Pardon Waiver Services Canada Inc.
Industry: Other
Region: National
Media: Digital - Display ads
Complaint(s): 1
Description: An online advertisement was headed “Criminal Record Removal” in large bold type. Below the headline there was an image of the Canadian House of Commons and a hand holding a Canadian passport. Immediately below the image were the words “Qualify Now for a Permanent Criminal Record Removal” in large bold type. As well, the advertisement contained the image of a red and white maple leaf and the words “Federal Pardons Waivers Canada.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged the advertisement was misleading because only the Parole Board of Canada, an agency of the federal government, has the ability to expunge criminal records.
Decision: The impression conveyed to Council by this advertisement was that it was sponsored by the Government of Canada. Furthermore, the advertisement did not make it clear that “Federal Pardons Waivers Canada” was a for-profit company that provides assistance with making (but not the power to grant) applications for pardons from the Parole Board of Canada. Council found that by improperly incorporating certain iconic images and symbols commonly found in advertising by the Government of Canada, this advertising, which adopted a disguised advertising technique, was misleading and omitted relevant information about its real commercial character.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a), (b) and Clause 2.


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 2: Disguised Advertising Techniques

Advertiser: Insauga
Industry: Other
Region: Ontario
Media: Digital - Marketer - Owned Websites
Complaint(s): 1
Description: An article in a local online publication described the features of a large retail outlet in Mississauga. Immediately below the headline, were the words “Sponsored Post.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the “article” was, in fact, undisclosed advertising.
Decision: To Council, the “article” gave the impression of being a self-congratulatory press release. Although the words “Sponsored Post” appeared at the beginning of the article, the actual identity of the sponsor of the “article” or “post” was not clearly identified, as required under Clause 1(f) of the Code. Council, also concluded that the advertisement was presented in a format and style that concealed the fact that it was an advertisement.
Infraction: Clauses 1(f) and 2.


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 2: Disguised Advertising Techniques

Advertiser: Kamloops This Week
Industry: Other
Region: British Columbia
Media: Digital - Marketer - Owned Websites
Complaint(s): 3
Description: Several articles about a mine project, with a byline entitled “Sponsored Content”, were published in an online publication.
Complaint: The complainants alleged that these articles were, in fact, undisclosed advertising.
Decision: In Council’s opinion, each of the “articles” went beyond merely presenting factual information about the mine project. Rather, each article described the project in a positive light, in most cases from the perspective of the mine’s Project Manager. In the Code, “advertising” is defined as “any message, the content of which is controlled directly or indirectly by the advertiser…and communicated to Canadians with the intent to influence their choice, opinion, or behaviour.” Based on this definition, Council concluded that these “articles” constituted “advertising”. Moreover, Clause 1(f) of the Code requires that, in an advertisement, the advertiser ‘must be clearly identified’. In the case of the complained about “articles”, the advertiser in question was never identified. Council, therefore, found that the advertisements contravened Clause 1(f) and that the advertisements were presented in a format and style that concealed the fact that they were advertisements.
Infraction: Clauses 1(f) and 2.
Advertiser's Verbatim Statement: “We thought we were in compliance by labelling the material as sponsored content. Certainly this was consistent with the practice we noted at other newspapers. However, adding the name of the sponsor removes any ambiguity about the source of the material and we are happy to make the change to our policy so that sponsors are always identified with their content.”


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 4: Bait and Switch

Advertiser: Flight Network
Industry: Transport - Airlines
Region: National
Media: Digital - Marketer - Owned Websites
Complaint(s): 1
Description: Flights were advertised on the advertiser’s website from Calgary to Hayden, Colorado for the all-inclusive price of $745 CDN.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the advertisement was misleading.
Decision: The complainant booked a flight and received a confirmation number. This was followed by an email from the advertiser informing the complainant that the flights could not be booked at the advertised price. A representative of the advertiser told the complainant that although there were no flights available at the advertised price, there were flights at a higher price: $893. The complainant also stated that when she spoke to the advertiser’s representative, the original flights were still being advertised at the lower, all-inclusive price of $745. The advertiser did not respond to ASC’s request for comments on the merits of the complaint. Reinforced by the fact that the lower priced flights were still being advertised at the lower price after the complainant was informed that they were not available, Council found that the advertisement was misleading and misrepresented the consumer’s opportunity to purchase the flights on the terms presented in the advertisement.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a) and 4.


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 5: Guarantees

Advertiser: Forever Spin
Industry: Toys
Region: National
Media: Digital - Marketer - Owned Websites
Complaint(s): 1
Description: In an advertisement on its website, the manufacturer of spinning tops claimed: “Lifetime warranty. ForeverSpin tops will last forever. Every top is safe with our lifetime guarantee and the ForeverSpin seal.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the “Lifetime Warranty” claim was misleading, because the copper- topped ForeverSpin top he had owned for about four months “deformed” with use.
Decision: The advertiser submitted that the warranty didn’t cover normal wear and tear and was limited to manufacturer’s deficiencies and material deficiencies. In Council’s opinion, the “lifetime warranty” was significantly limited and narrow, a fact that contradicted the more prominent claim in the advertisement that the warranty was “lifetime” when it was a “limited warranty” at most. Because the warranty was, in fact, limited, and the extent of these limitations was not disclosed in the advertisement itself, Council found that the advertisement was misleading.
Appeal: Following its careful review of the advertising in question and the submissions by both the complainant and the Advertiser, the Appeal Panel unanimously affirmed Council’s original decision.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a), (b), (c) and Clause 5.


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 14: Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals

Advertiser: Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform
Industry: Non-commercial - Other
Region: Ontario
Media: Out-of-Home - Billboard, Poster, Transit
Complaint(s): 72
Description: In an advertisement on the outside of buses in the City of Peterborough, images were shown of foetuses at 7 weeks and sixteen weeks, with the word “Growing” under each image. The final image consisted of a red circle containing the word “Gone”. Immediately next to the images, the words “Abortion Kills Children” were printed in very large type, under which the words “endthekilling.ca” identified the advertiser’s website.
Complaint: The complainants alleged that the advertisement was both misleading and inappropriately graphic ‒ particularly to children.
Decision: Clause 1 (Accuracy and Clarity) Many of the complainants submitted it was misleading in the advertisement to use the words “Abortion Kills Children”. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, prior to live birth a foetus is not legally regarded as a child or person. On that basis, Council agreed with the complainants and found that the statement was misleading. Furthermore, the image of a foetus, together with the words “16 weeks growing…Gone” conveyed the impression, again misleading, that abortions are routinely performed after sixteen weeks. This is unsupported by the facts, which are that the vast majority of abortions in Canada are performed prior to, not after, twelve weeks. Council, therefore found that this aspect of the advertisement was also misleading. Clause 14 (Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals) It concerned most of the complainants that, given its high prominence and visibility on the outside of transit buses, this advertisement would inevitably be seen by children, among others, for whom the graphic images and the suggestion that children are being killed would be seriously disturbing. Council agreed and concluded that the advertisement displayed obvious indifference to conduct or attitudes that offend the standards of public decency prevailing among a significant segment of the population. As provided in the Code, ASC asked the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform to comply with the Standards Council’s decision by withdrawing this advertising. To date, the advertiser has not responded to ASC about Council’s decision.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a) and 14 (d).


Clause 3: Price Claims

Advertiser: Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited
Industry: Retail (Supermarkets, Dept stores etc.)
Region: Quebec
Media: Direct Marketing - eMail, SMS, MMS
Complaint(s): 1
Description: Limited Industry: Retail Region: Quebec Media: Direct Marketing - Email Complaint(s): 1 Description: In Canadian Tire’s online flyer for the week of March 3 – 9, 2017, a wrench and 6 bonus impact sockets were advertised as a “Special Buy” for $179.99, allegedly representing a $120.00 savings off the regular price of $299.99. However, when, during the same time period, the complainant received a different electronic advertisement from the advertiser, the same product was advertised as having a regular price of $219.99.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the savings claim was misleading.
Decision: The same product was advertised within the same time period as having two different regular prices. Because the regular price of the advertised product could not be both $219.99 and $299.99 within the same time period, Council found that the advertisement contained a misleading savings claim.
Infraction: Clause 3(a).


Clause 3: Price Claims

Advertiser: Sears Canada Inc.
Industry: Retail (Supermarkets, Dept stores etc.)
Region: Alberta
Media: Direct Marketing - eMail, SMS, MMS
Complaint(s): 1
Description: In an advertisement, the price of the Kenmore Pro Heavy Duty Professional Blender was featured at $149.97. Located directly under the featured price were the words: “Compare at $579.99”. At the top of advertisement were the words: “It’s Back. Our Kenmore Pro Heavy Duty Professional Blender is back in stock.”
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the blender was never sold by Sears Canada at the price of $579.99.
Decision: The advertiser did not respond to ASC’s request for its comments on the merits of the complaint. When viewed as a whole, the advertisement conveyed to Council the impression that, when it was in stock at Sears Canada, the featured blender was usually sold at $579.99, compared to a special low price of $149.97. However, Council was unable to find any evidence that the product was ever sold by Sears Canada at the higher price. Council found that the advertisement contained an unrealistic and deceptive price comparison.
Infraction: Clause 3(a).


Clause 14: Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals

Advertiser: Bruffo Haute Couture Pour Hommes
Industry: Retail (Supermarkets, Dept stores etc.)
Region: Quebec
Media: Digital - Marketer - Owned Websites
Complaint(s): 5
Description: On the advertiser’s Facebook page, a woman was pictured from behind wearing only panties that bore the word “Bruffo”. On the advertiser’s website, a man was pictured wearing a jacket and shirt, while a woman was shown only wearing a bra.
Complaint: The complainants were women’s organizations who alleged that the images of the women inappropriately exploited women’s sexuality.
Decision: Council agreed with the complainants finding that because there was no connection between a woman’s sexuality and a men’s clothing store. In Council’s opinion, both images demeaned women and displayed obvious indifference, without merit, to conduct or attitude that offend standards of decency.
Infraction: Clauses 14(c) and (d).




Non-Identified Cases - January 1, 2017 - Oct 22, 2017
Canadian Code of Advertising Standards

Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Acupuncture Clinic
Industry: Health and beauty services
Region: Alberta
Media: Radio
Complaint(s): 1
Description: The following claims regarding the efficacy of acupuncture were made in a radio commercial: “acupuncture is proven effective in the treatment of many conditions including: sciatica, headaches, and neck or lower back pain”.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the claims were not supported by scientific evidence.
Decision: After reviewing and assessing the evidence, which included recent decisions regarding the same claims following their review by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK, Council found that the advertised claims in Canada were not scientifically supported by the evidence provided by the advertiser and, therefore, were misleading. The advertiser is not identified in this case summary because the advertisement was permanently withdrawn before Council met to adjudicate the complaint.
Infraction: Clauses 1(a) and (e).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Automobile Manufacturer
Industry: Cars and motorized vehicles – General
Region: National
Media: Audio Visual - Traditional televison
Complaint(s): 1
Description: A large block of price-related text was shown very briefly in the last frame of a television commercial advertising an automobile.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that the text was illegible.
Decision: Council was aware of the regulatory requirements regarding disclosure of the cost of credit in automobile advertising and the challenges this presents to automobile advertisers who strive for legibility. Council was also aware that some automobile manufacturers have been able to make such information legible in their commercials, while others have elected to exclude price and cost of borrowing advertising from their television commercials because of the inherent limitations and constraints of that medium. After viewing the commercial several times on an 80 inch screen, Council concluded that not one word of the text was large enough or on screen long enough to be legible. Council, therefore, found that the disclaimer text was not presented in a manner that was clearly legible. The advertiser is not identified in this case summary because the advertisement was permanently withdrawn before Council met to adjudicate the complaint.
Infraction: Clause 1(d).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity

Advertiser: Energy Company
Industry: Energy, water and combustibles - Utilities
Region: Western Canada
Media: Newspapers
Complaint(s): 2
Description: In a newspaper advertisement about making sustainable energy choices, the advertiser used the words “renewable natural gas”.
Complaint: The complainants alleged it was misleading to describe natural gas as “renewable.”
Decision: In its response to Council, the advertiser explained that “renewable natural gas” and conventional natural gas are two different products. Renewable natural gas is derived from biogas, which is produced from decomposing organic waste from landfills, agricultural waste and wastewater from treatment facilities. When captured and cleaned, renewable natural gas is a carbon neutral substitute for conventional natural gas. However, in the absence of any explanation in the advertisement of what the advertiser meant when it referred to “renewable natural gas “, the impression the advertising conveyed to Council was the same as to the complainants: that conventional natural gas was renewable, when it is not. Council, therefore, found the advertisement was inaccurate. The advertiser is not identified in this case summary because the advertisement was permanently withdrawn before Council met to adjudicate the complaints and the advertiser agreed to amend the advertising in future.
Infraction: Clause 1(a) and (d).


Clause 1: Accuracy and Clarity
Clause 2: Disguised Advertising Techniques

Advertiser: Cosmetic Company
Industry: Health & beauty - Cosmetics
Region: National
Media: Digital - Display ads
Complaint(s): 1
Description: In a social media post on Instagram, an influencer described her experience with a facial product.
Complaint: The complainant alleged that post was actually a sponsored advertisement that should have been identified as such.
Decision: Council, agreed with the complainant, finding that the Instagram post was disguised advertising and failed to disclose the relevant information that the posting contained sponsored content. The advertiser is not identified in this case summary because it took steps before Council met to adjudicate the complaint to have the post appropriately amended with the addition of “#ad”.
Infraction: Clauses 2 (b) and 1(b).


Clause 14: Unacceptable Depictions and Portrayals
Clause 13: Advertising to Minors

Advertiser: Digital Software Company
Industry: Other
Region: Ontario
Media: Out-of-Home - Billboard, Poster, Transit
Complaint(s): 2
Description: On billboards in Toronto that advertised a downloadable application to help users find marijuana dispensaries and marijuana-related service providers, the image of a marijuana plant and the words “High Toronto” were prominently featured.
Complaint: The complainants alleged the billboards promoted illegal use of marijuana.
Decision: Council noted that, at this time, storefront marijuana dispensaries are illegal in Canada and not authorized to sell marijuana for medical or any other purpose. In Council’s opinion, when on the billboards, the unmistakable image of the marijuana plant appeared together with the word “High”, the advertisements encouraged and exhibited obvious indifference to unlawful behaviour. Council also found that this advertising contravened the Code by appealing particularly to persons under legal age. The advertiser is not identified by name in this case summary because the billboards were permanently removed before Council met to adjudicate the complaints.
Infraction: Clauses 14(b) and 13.