Complaint: 09/281

Vodafone Direct Mail Advertisement


J. Samaratunga
Unaddressed Mail
Upheld / Settled
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Chairman's Ruling

29 June 2009

Complaint 09/281

Complainant: J. Samaratunga
Advertisement: Vodafone New Zealand Limited

Complaint: The direct mail advertisement for Vodafone contained the text "Put the kettle on, and let's chat about a special offer we have for you". Affixed to the flyer above this text was a tea bag. When the tea bag was removed from the page, small text was visible that said "Tea bag for promotional purposes only and not intended for consumption".

Complainant, J. Samaratunga, expressed concern that it was not clear enough in the promotion that the tea bag was not for consumption and that this may have had consequences for people who used the teabag without sufficient warning.

The relevant provisions were Basic Principle 4 and Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics.

The Advertiser, Vodafone New Zealand Limited, said:

"...The purpose of the Direct Mail was to inform customers located within our "Red Network" zone that our door-to-door agents would be visiting their households in the near future to discuss a special home phone and broadband deal. The inclusion of the tea bag was simply a creative idea to capture attention.

It was not our intention that the tea bag be consumed. As noted above, the tea bag was glued to the cardboard and, in case the tea bag was removed from the card, a disclaimer was included informing customers that the tea bag was for promotional purposes only. That said, to our knowledge there was nothing in the tea bag or the glue holding it to the cardboard which would be harmful in the event that the tea bag was consumed. A letter containing information on the construction of the Direct Mail has been prepared by our advertising agency Aim Proximity and is attached for your information.

We also note that despite delivering the Direct Mail to over fifty thousand households around Auckland, we have received only one complaint - from the Complainant. Vodafone is very concerned to exercise a due sense of responsibility to consumers and society, and to ensure communications with our customers are straightforward and truthful. While we do not believe we have failed in our duty to our customers in this case, in light of the current Complaint we will not be extending this DM campaign which we had originally planned to run outside Auckland. We understand and sympathise with the concerns of the Complainant and hope to continue working with her to address any outstanding issues in relation to her customer experience with Vodafone."

The Chairman noted that the distribution of the advertisement had been stopped in self-regulatory manner once the matter had been brought to the attention of the Advertiser. Accordingly, she said that the matter had been settled and it would serve no further purpose to place it before the Complaints Board.

The Chairman ruled that the complaint was Settled.

Chairman's Ruling: Complaint Settled