ASA drops W H Smith R&J book club ad complaint

ASA drops W H Smith R&J book club ad complaint

A complaint against a W H Smith advert for the Richard and Judy Book Club has not been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The television broadcast, promoting the husband-and wife team’s exclusive deal with W H Smith to run Richard and Judy’s Book Club, contained the phrase "we’re back with Britain’s Biggest Book Club".

However, Cactus TV, whose m.d. Amanda Ross launched R&J’s original book club on Channel 4, and now produces More4’s "The TV Book Club" show, complained the broadcast was misleading.

Ross told the ASA that "people need to be clear that this is not a continuation of the previous book club which is still on Channel 4", after the advert also said "don’t forget 25 of our past favourites too", referring to the previous C4 club. Cactus TV was concerned the ad suggested there was a connection between the original Book Club and the new W H Smith-sponsored book club, "with regard to its validity, heritage and origin."

However, upon investigation, the ASA decided there was no case to answer after evidence proved W H Smith had the exclusive right to use the Richard and Judy name in relation to books, and the husband and wife pair owned the trademark "Richard and Judy."

A spokesperson for the ASA said: "Since the final episode of the Richard and Judy TV programme, that included the book club in July 2009 (by then, on digital channel Watch), More 4 and Channel 4 had launched their own TV Book Club without Richard and Judy . . .Because we considered the ad simply made the point that Richard and Judy were back and were advertising a book club with W H Smith rather than presenting a book club on TV, we concluded that the ad was not misleading for suggesting there was a connection between the original Book Club and the new WH Smith-sponsored book club with regard to its validity, heritage and origin."

It said no further action would be taken.

Rachel Russell, in charge of books for W H Smith, said:"We believe that the ASA was correct to find our advertising was not misleading to customers and they supported our argument."

A spokesperson for Cactus TV said: "There have been conversations between the two parties [Cactus and W H Smith] and the matter has been resolved amicably." She made no further comment.