Man goes to court over free maize meal

2014-02-13 15:08

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Johannesburg - A man took Independent Newspapers to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after he did not receive a free packet of maize meal as advertised in the newspaper.

The ASA dismissed the complaint, finding that the print advertisement was not misleading.
Complainant RM Meldrum lodged a complaint about an advertisement that appeared in the Saturday Star newspaper before 7 December last year.

The advertisement featured an image of White Star maize meal and stated: "Get your free 1kg pack of White Star quick when you buy your copy of the Saturday Star on 7th December."

A disclaimer on the bottom of the advert reads: "Only available with street sales in the greater Johannesburg area."

Disclaimer ‘illegible’

Meldrum submitted that the advertising was misleading as he did not receive a free pack of the maize meal as advertised.

He said the small yellow typeface disclaimer was practically illegible.

Independent Newspapers submitted that on 9 December after receiving a complaint from Meldrum it offered him a packet of the maize meal even though the advertising was clear in stating that it was only available through street vendors.

The complainant refused the offer, and Independent regarded the matter as finalised.

The ASA said the complainant submitted that the advertisement was a deliberate attempt to mislead the public, as the smaller font was unreadable.

ASA: Ad not verbose

"The directorate [of ASA] however, does not share this view," it said in its ruling.

"The advertisement under consideration was featured in a newspaper which allows a reader adequate time to read and study all the information at his/her leisure.

"This is significant, and negates any argument that the footnote is hidden or that it appeared so fast that people would not notice it (as is often the case on television advertising)."

The ASA said the advertisement was not verbose and clearly indicated that the free pack of maize meal was only available with street sales and only in the greater Johannesburg area.

"While true that the font was smaller, the [ASA] directorate is satisfied that it is legible enough to negate the complainant's argument."

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