Leading cruise retailer Reader Offers has had a complaint that an advertisement misleadingly implied a cruise offer was exclusive to the newspaper upheld by the advertising watchdog.

The advertisement appeared in the Daily Telegraph with the headline ‘Earn up to 26,990 cruise miles with Reader Offers Ltd’. The ASA ruling states it had just one complaint about the advertisement dated August 21.

Other elements of the advertisement included claims that the cruise offer was only available with Reader Offers, using the wording “exclusive Reader Offers Ltd fares”.

The Advertising Standards Authority acted after receiving a complaint that the advertisement was misleading by implying that the promotion and the offer were associated and endorsed by the Daily Telegraph.

In response to the complaint, Reader Offers said they were confident consumers would understand they were an independent company. The Colchester-based firm has established itself as one of the most high-profile advertisers in the national press and will be well known to cruise customers who read the national newspapers.

The agency’s response stated: “Readers Offer Ltd (Reader Offers) said they were confident that consumers would understand that they were an independent company. They said that to date neither they nor the Daily Telegraph had received a single complaint on this issue.

“They provided a comment from the Daily Telegraph which stated that it had been accepting ads from Reader Offers Ltd for over six years and were entirely satisfied that there was no explicit or implicit link made between their two organisations.

“They said that they had conducted an extensive review before accepting the advertising as it currently appeared and that as Reader Offers existed as a limited company, it had the right to promote its name.”

In its ruling, ASA said: “The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told Reader Offers that future ads should not imply the promotion was an offer associated with the publication in which it appeared.”

ASA said the appearance of the advertisement, specifically the capitalised text ‘READER OFFERS’ following by smaller lower case ‘ltd’, could lead consumers to understand that the advertised cruise fare had been specifically negotiated with the Daily Telegraph.

The ASA said it understood national newspapers also have their own ‘reader offers’, which are not available elsewhere. The ASA was concluded the advertisement breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).