‘Payment’ demand mailing banned

Healthy Living Direct, a company offering health and beauty products, has had a direct mail campaign banned after ad watchdogs ruled the wording on the envelope could be misconstrued as a demand for cash.
One complainant challenged whether the envelope, which featured prominent, bold text stating “payment request”, outlined with a red box, could cause unnecessary distress to recipients. This was despite the fact that smaller text, immediately below the box, said “voucher”.
Healthy Living Direct parent company Kingstown Associates said the promotion was designed by an external agency. It explained that the claims “payment request” and “voucher” were intended to draw recipients’ attention to the fact that they could claim a payment from Healthy Living Direct, not that Healthy Living Direct was seeking a payment from them. They said, although “payment request” was contained in a red box, they believed the reference to “”voucher” was large enough to be legible by the recipient.
But the Advertising Standards Authority considered that the presentation of the envelope, was such that it could initially be mistaken for an outstanding payment or similar. It noted the envelope did not state it contained a marketing communication and it considered that it could therefore cause unnecessary distress to some recipients, especially because the text was contained within a red box, the type of which was normally associated with fines or other payment notices.
The ASA ruled the envelope must not be used again in its current form.

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