Pubdate: Fri, 24 Oct 2014
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Susan Lazaruk
Page: A10


A marijuana shop that used cartoon characters in a TV commercial was
among advertisers who violated a voluntary advertising standards code
last year.

Advertising Standards Canada in 2013 received nearly 1,300 complaints
across Canada about 1,100 ads that ran on TV, radio, in newspapers,
through direct mail, on the Internet and through "out of home" media,
according to its annual complaints report. That's down from a 10-year
high of 1,800 complaints in 2011, but roughly on par with the annual
numbers over the past decade.

About 160 of those complaints were made in B.C., said Janet Feasby,
vice-president of standards at ASC.

ASC upheld about 80 of the complaints across Canada because they
contravened the voluntary Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. Most
of the complaints were about accuracy and clarity, price claims,
safety or unacceptable depictions or portrayals.

The number of ads the ASC upheld complaints against in 2013 was

That's in line with the 50 to 60 ads a year about which the ASC upheld
complaints, but in 2012, the number spiked to 87 ads and in 2011, it
reached 83.

Most of the complaints were dismissed because they didn't fall under
the code, including complaints that didn't mention a specific ad, or
were about ads that were no longer current or were about political or
election advertising.

Allegations of inaccurate or misleading advertising made up about a
third of all complaints.

Retail advertising received the highest number of complaints, 178
across Canada, followed by the service category, at 148, and the food
industry, with 108 complaints.

And for the third year in a row, almost twice as many complaints were
made by people concerned about allegedly misleading advertising than
allegedly offensive advertising, said Feasby. Consumers were also
concerned mostly in 2013 about ads that omitted important terms about
fees, costs and conditions, not being able to read the fine print
(mostly in TV car ads) and exaggerated health claims, especially in
online advertising, which spiked up last year.

One complaint that was upheld involved an Ontario marijuana retail
outlet that advertised on television using two cartoon dogs talking to
each other about seeds, pipes and papers. The complainant alleged the
commercial was appealing to youth. ASC agreed and noted the ad
promoted unlawful behaviour, recreational marijuana use. The
advertiser amended the ad to say that it sells products for medical
and novelty use and to invite viewers to visit its website for
information about Health Canada's medical cannabis program, but that
was dismissed by ASC because it "failed to overcome the overwhelming
impression" that it promoted unlawful behaviour and appealed to
minors. (The ad no longer runs.)

Go to
for the complete report.
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