UTV-owned talkSPORT has had a complaint upheld for a member of staff who posted on a football website advertising the stations search for a reporter feature. A reader complained that it was not clear that the weblog was an ad placed by the station itself.
The blog post was copied on a number of football fan sites and contained typing and grammatical errors, giving the impression it came from a fan of the team in question. The full post is below, complete with errors:
[i]"Fellas, Have you heard what talksport [sic] radio are doing this season. They are recruiting a fan from every club in the premiership and football league, 92 fans in total who will become the voice for their club on their station. If the manager is sacked, the club has gone into administration or if the club mascot has gone missing, they will call you up and get you on air as a representative for your club. I found this link on their website, so head there is [sic] you wanna register … Those selected will get a free copy of FIFA 07 from EA Sports on whatever platform you wish. At the end of the day it basically gives you the chance to be on air regularly throughout the entire football season and it might even get you on the first step to a new career. I just hope we get someone who knows what he is talking about!"[/i]
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the one complaint, saying "Marketing communications should be designed and presented in such a way that it was clear that they were marketing communications. Because the ads were not identified as such, talkSPORT radio breached the code."
talkSPORT responded by explaining the aim of the campaign had been to give listeners a chance to become "The Voice" of their team for the 2006/07 football season. The chosen listeners would be used each time there was a news story about their team. They said they had intended to recruit listeners through talkSPORT radio and the talkSPORT website and the weblog posts, on other websites, had not been part of their planned marketing strategy. They explained that a member of staff had acted independently of the radio station in placing the postings. They said they had now taken steps to ensure that all employees were aware that such actions were not permitted without prior approval. talkSPORT apologised to users of the other websites if they had been misled by the postings.
The ads breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 (Misleading) and 22.1 (Recognising marketing communications and identifying marketers).
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