Health specialist under fire for hoodwinking mailer

bluescreenPrivate medical company Bluecrest Health Screening has been blasted for a direct mail campaign, which the ad watchdog believed could have been confused with official correspondence from the NHS.
The mailshot, devised by WPN Chameleon, was headed “Health Screening Appointment Invitation” along with the recipient name.
Underneath a box was headed “Your nearest Health Screening appointment” and gave a day and location. Further text stated “Important Information About Your Health Screeening” and went on to give information about what tests the screening included. Text at the end of the letter stated “My staff will look forward to seeing you. All you need to do is freephone [number] to confirm your actual appointment time on the day.”
The envelope for the mailing was personally addressed, and the name and address appeared in a handwriting-style font. A Bluecrest Health Screening logo was printed in the top left-hand corner. The back of the envelope included a return address for “Bluecrest Response”.
But two complainants believed the mailing was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and that it implied an appointment had already been made for the recipient, which they were required to respond to or attend, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
In response, Bluecrest said it produced a comprehensive mailpack to ensure consumers were informed about what it offered, and that it was important to consider the full contents of the mailing, including the three inserts as well as a letter.
It also said that the envelope included its logo and necessary barcode for delivery. It therefore believed that when all the elements of the mailing were considered, it was clear that it was a marketing communication.
The ASA, however, was not convinced. It pointed out that the mailing had been targeted at consumers around the age of 60 and considered how it would be understood by an average consumer of around that age.
It understood that various NHS health screening programmes were offered to people within that age group and considered that the average consumer in that age group would be more alert to the possibility of being contacted regarding health screening.
It also considered that while consumers might generally expect such letters to be NHS branded, given the changes in the health sector regarding the privatisation of some NHS services, the fact a mailing was not NHS branded did not rule out consumers being misled by it.
It concluded that the mailshot was not obviously identifiable as marketing and ruled it must not appear again in its current form.

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