The ad watchdog has exposed the lengths some payday lenders are going to to attract customers after it banned a text message campaign from First Financial which read more like a conversation between old friends.
Three text messages promoted the site firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk. The first stated: “Hi Mate I’m still out in town, just got £1000 in my account from these guys firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk”.
The second text stated “Hi Mate hows u? I’m still out in town, just got £850 in my account from these guys firstpaydayloanuk.co.uk”. And the third read: “You have been pre-approved for up to £1000 cash today. Apply now at firstpadayloanuk.com and receive your cash within 15 minutes, to opt-out reply STOP”.
The push sparked 13 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. Five complainants claimed they were spam texts, a further five objected the ads suggested a loan should be used to fund a social life; while others objected that the messages were not clearly marketing communications.
In its defence, First Financial claimed it was only responsible for setting up pay-day loan websites which were then passed on to advertisers. It blamed marketing firm Akklaim Telecom, adding that it had no control over the marketing. However, Akklaim was unable to confirm whether it was using opt-in data.
Banning all three ads, the ASA warned First Financial and Akklaim Telecoms to ensure text message ads were clearly identifiable as marketing and were only sent to those who had given explicit consent to receive them. It also told both firms to ensure ads did not imply that payday loans were suitable for spending on a social life.
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