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UK Government advert that appeared on Welsh news website banned after MPs complain

12 Oct 2022 3 minute read
Left, the Media Wales building. Picture by Seth Whales. Right, Michael Gove who ran the department for Levelling Up. Picture by the Policy Exchange (CC BY 2.0).

An ad by a UK Government department that appeared on a Welsh news website has been banned following complaints from two Labour MPs that they were not obviously identifiable as ads.

The ad by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities appeared on March 13 on the websites of Wales Online.

It also appeared on other Reach titles such as the Grimsby Telegraph, Derby Telegraph, Birmingham Mail, Leicestershire Mercury and Newcastle Chronicle, and on Cornwall Live.

They carried the headline “Levelling Up! What is it and what does it mean for Wales?”, the text “By Millie Reeves Commercial Writer”, a grey box with the word “advertorial” in block capitals and an infographic including the HM Government logo.

Labour MPs Lisa Nandy and Alex Norris complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the ads were not obviously identifiable as such.

Picture by ASA of one of seven newspaper advertorials for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities which have been banned. PA Wire

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said they believed the advertorial labelling was both visible and prominent.

They clarified that the labelling was in news publisher Reach’s house style and common practice across all of their titles, adding that publishers were responsible for ensuring content was correctly labelled and followed guidelines.

Reach said the ‘”advertorial” label travelled down as the reader scrolled through the page but later confirmed that this technical feature was not in place at the time of the campaign and therefore would not have been seen by readers of the ads.

Reach added that readers would have seen the advertorials via a Facebook or Google ad or the newspaper’s homepage, all paths which were obviously labelled as marketing communications.

Identifiable

ASA noted that while the ads were labelled, the statements did not reference the DLUHC and it was not clear from the text that the subsequent article would also be an ad.

The ASA said the “advertorial” label on the homepage was small and likely to be overlooked by readers who would also understand the by-line “Millie Reeves Commercial Writer” to mean that the article was a piece of editorial content.

The ASA said: “We therefore concluded that the ads were not obviously identifiable as marketing communications.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and Reach Plc to ensure that all future marketing communications were prominently and clearly identifiable as such.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

Wales Online, the online news portal for English people that live in Cymru. Future articles include: “Why the Welsh Should Thank The English For Coming Here” “English Is The Best Language says Welsh Lady” “Second Homes, Should They Be Cheaper?” “Jacob Rees Mogg: The Thinking Woman’s Crumpet” “Petition To Have A McDonalds At The Top Of That Mountain We Like Launched” “A Hundred And One Ways To Boil Meat” “Chips and Quinoa Recipies To Keep You Full When Visiting Wales” “Proven: They DO Only Speak Welsh When English People Are Around” “History Section: Wales Has Always Been A County of… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

Why not ban it? ‘Levelling up’ is probably the single biggest untruth from the Department of Deception, Smoke & Mirrors and amounts to pure propaganda.

George Atkinson
George Atkinson
1 month ago

Walesonline is an English rag and read by Welsh hating English nationalists.

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

The photograph of the Media Wales building was by Seth Whales, mmmm🤔

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
1 month ago

Unsurprising. That’s the “Reach” newspaper group for you. I always imagine the “Reach” logo has an arm stretched out 30 degrees to the floor, hand open, fingers together, palm down. In a manner popularised in mainland Europe around the middle of the 20th century.

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
1 month ago

Wales Online is full of clueless numpties who blame everything on “Dripford” and “The WAG”.

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