ASA bans Thomas Cook ads

LONDON - Press and poster ads by Hurrell Moseley Dawson & Grimmer for Thomas Cook have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

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The ads, which compared the foreign exchange rates of the Post Office and Thomas Cook, prompted complaints from the Post Office and a member of the public. Both objected to the claim "we beat the Post Office exchange rates" and questioned whether it could be substantiated.

Thomas Cook said it monitored the national Post Office exchange rates and sent a copy they had used during the campaign to the ASA.

It also claimed that shortly after the campaign launched, the Post Office had introduced a different pricing system in some branches. The advertiser maintained it had issued strict instructions to its stores to ensure each one beat its local Post Office branch.

The ASA found, however, that the new Post Office policy had not been implemented in response to the campaign but had, in fact, begun before the ads appeared.

The watchdog therefore considered that Thomas Cook had not fulfilled the price promise from its campaign and for this reason found the ads to be unsubstantiated and misleading. They must not appear again in their current form.