The ASA bans fake Facebook ‘Martin Lewis’ ads

Facebook ads broke advertising rules, says Advertising Standards Authority

Three Facebook ads which used images of MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis broke advertising rules and misleadingly implied Martin was endorsing the companies’ services and products, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled.

The ads – produced by two separate companies, one offering financial advice services, the other PPI claims management – have been banned by the advertising watchdog from reappearing in their current form.

The ruling is the latest development in our ongoing battle to stop companies using the name or image of Martin or MoneySavingExpert.com without permission.

However, unfortunately an ongoing advert still regularly appearing on Facebook – for a binary trading scam that uses Martin Lewis’ face and lies that he has invested in the company – can’t be banned because the company is based outside the UK. And Facebook continues to republish it even though it has been reported to them countless times.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “I want this to send a message to any company or firm trying to use my or MoneySavingExpert's name and reputation to imply a false endorsement – we will use every avenue and resource to take you on and make sure people aren't parting with their hard earned cash due to a false impression.

“Beunder no illusion the real problem here is Facebook. It accepts these adverts with seemingly no care, attention or quality threshold. It allows everyone and anyone including criminal scammers from overseas to advertise on its site.Then, even though it’s taking their shilling, it takes no responsibility, leaving the burden on someone like me whose image is being ripped off, or on vulnerable people being scammed, to fight it.

“As Facebook isn’t an advertiser the ASA can’t rule against it. There is a gap in the rules in this country. It’s about time Facebook took its duties as a paid publisher seriously and faced consequences, as so many times it has breached them.

“Yet for now, I want to spread the word that I don’t advertise financial products on Facebook and I don’t endorse anyone else’s adverts. So if you see my name or picture in a post, especially paid-for ones, then be extremely wary – it's at best a false endorsement and at worst a scam.”

On the ASA rulings, the first advert, a paid-for Facebook ad for Sterling Partnership Ltd, which offers financial advice including specialist advice on investments and pensions, featured an image of Martin and said: “Get the Latest Money Saving Tips & Advice.”

The other two adverts were for PPI claims firm Civil Claim Services Ltd. Both were Facebook posts - one paid-for, one not - and included images taken from an interview with Martin overlaid with text that said “Finally a PPI reclaim company you can trust” in quotation marks.

The ASA said the images in all three ads were likely to be understood by consumers to mean that Martin Lewis had endorsed the advertisers' service or product. Martin has no connection with either of the two companies and had not endorsed either of them.

The ASA has ruled all three adverts must not appear again in their current form, and told both companies they should ensure "they did not imply their service had been endorsed by any specific individual unless that was the case".

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Read more in the MoneySavingExpert.com news story.

For more comments, please contact:

Katie Watts

Tel: 020 3846 2631

Mob: 07875 415 378
katie.watts@moneysavingexpert.com

About Martin Lewis: Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is the journalist and consumer campaigner who created MoneySavingExpert.com and is now the site’s Executive Chair. Martin also founded and chairs the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity.

He’s the UK’s most-googled man, Citizens Advice’s Consumer Champion of the Year, and has spearheaded major financial justice campaigns including bank charges reclaiming (over seven million template letters downloaded), PPI reclaiming (over six million) and a successful large-scale campaign to get financial education in schools. He has his own prime-time ITV programme, The Martin Lewis Money Show, as well as a range of other regular media slots. He was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2014.

About MoneySavingExpert.com: MoneySavingExpert.com is dedicated to cutting consumers’ bills and fighting their corner. The free-to-use consumer finance help resource aims to show people how to save money on anything and everything, and campaigns for financial justice. It was set up in 2003 for just £100, and its free-to-use, ethical stance quickly made it the UK’s biggest independent money website, according to internet ranking site Alexa.com, and the number one ‘Business and Finance – Business Information’ site, according to Hitwise. It has more than 12 million people opted-in to receive the weekly MSE’s Money Tips email, and more than 16 million unique monthly site users who visit more than 28 million times a month. In September 2012, it joined the MoneySupermarket.com Group PLC.