SBD/August 17, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

TV Ad Featuring Padraig Harrington Banned In U.K. For Misleading Claims

U.K. advertising authority rules ad featuring Harrington misleads consumers
The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority "has banned a TV commercial by Optical Express" featuring golfer Padraig Harrington for "misleading consumers into thinking his game had benefited from laser eye surgery, when he had never undergone the procedure with the company," according to Mark Sweney of the GUARDIAN. Optical Express "ran a TV campaign and accompanying brochure promoting the benefits of its laser eye surgery" featuring the golfer. Harrington in the ad says, "People often ask me: how can I improve my game? I tell them the secret is to stay focused. And of course it's important to have great vision. I need to be able to look down the line, focusing clearly on the target. My advice? Visit Optical Express. ... It could help your game too." Sweney notes Optical Express' "argument was that the use of Harrington was simply to convey the idea that good vision is needed to play golf and Optical Express offers laser eye surgery." However, the ad watchdog said that the "testimonial and the TV ad were both misleading as they conveyed the idea that Harrington -- who has had laser eye surgery, but not with Optical Express -- had experienced the benefits of the procedure with that particular company" (GUARDIAN, 8/17).
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