A “misleading” TV ad for Richard Desmond’s Health Lottery has been banned for implying it had more winners than the National Lottery.
Watchdogs found the ad, which was screened in May this year, also breached rules regarding substantiation and comparisons with identifiable competitors.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation following a complaint from a viewer about the ad in which a voiceover stated: “There’s never been a better time to play the Health Lottery...and with over £100 million handed out in prize money, there are more winners too.”
The ad featured a number of previous winners, one of whom said: “Lotto became too expensive with too many balls in the machine.”
The viewer challenged whether the claim “with over £100 million handed out in prize money, there are more winners too,” which they believed was a comparison between the number of Health Lottery and Lotto winners, was misleading and could be substantiated.
The Health Lottery ELM Ltd said the “more winners” claim was a genuine reference to the fact that in the year following the Health Lottery’s launch, they increased the number of draws per week, from one to two.
Later, they increased them again to four draws a week and in 2015, they introduced a further draw which meant they now had five draws per week.
They explained that each additional draw had created more and more winners, and added that they had recently introduced raffle promotions linked to their lottery draws, which created yet more winners.
The Health Lottery said the claim was not intended to suggest that the Health Lottery had more winners than Lotto, also known as the National Lottery.
The Health Lottery said that as of February 25 this year, they had paid out £105,629,867 in prize money and there had been 5,803,970 prizes winners since the launch of the Health Lottery, and that this number was growing all the time.
But an ASA spokesman said: “We noted the ad featured testimonials from players and winners, as well as the presenter discussing the benefits of playing the Health Lottery.
“However, there were no other references or claims within the ad outside of that context, and therefore, we considered it was unclear from the ad as to what the presenter’s claim of ‘there are more winners too’ referred.
“In the absence of further information to help explain the context of that claim, we considered viewers were likely to interpret a claim which included the word ‘more’ to be a comparison of some kind.
“In that context and given the reference to Lotto in a testimonial earlier on in the ad, we considered viewers were likely to understand the claim ‘there are more winners too’ to be a comparison about the number of winners between the two lotteries.
“Because of that, the Health Lottery needed to hold relevant comparative data showing both the number of their winners and that of Lotto.
“However, we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that the Health Lottery had had more winners than Lotto and therefore, we concluded the ad was misleading.”
He added: “The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.
“We told the Health Lottery not to imply they had more winners than Lotto.”