An interesting complaint was lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority (“the Authority”) recently. The complainant was listening to the radio when an advert from the City of Johannesburg (“the City”) was broadcast. The advert stated amongst other things that the City was financially stable. The complainant lodged a complaint based on Clause 4.2.1 in Section II of the Code of Advertising Practice, which deals with misleading advertising. The complainant alleged that:

  • The City had 3 audits conducted on it;
  • Pikitup is bankrupt; and
  • The Road Agency was unable to repair the roads.

The survey was on the City’s website.

The City received the complaint, acknowledged receipt but failed to respond.

The Directorate therefore had to decide the matter without the respondent’s (the Authority) . The Authority found in the favour of the complainant. It decided that the advert was misleading and ordered the City to remove the advert and not to make use of the advert in its current format in the future.

The City appealed the decision and provided the Authority with its reasons for not responding to the complaint. It argued that the auditor general’s report on their website related to internal controls and not to its financial stability. They also argued that the report did not suggest that the City is financially unstable. They further submitted evidence that it is in a strong financial position.

The Directorate upheld the appeal and the previous order was removed.