UK's Advertising Standards Authority bans 'misleading' cask investment ads

UK's Advertising Standards Authority bans 'misleading' cask investment ads

Blackford Casks and London Cask Co. had rulings upheld against them which stated that they misled prospective customers on potential returns and the risks involved in cask investment

News | 24 Aug 2023

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The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned “misleading” advertising campaigns run by two whisky cask investment companies – and labelled the practices of one as “irresponsible”.


The ASA ruled that Blackford Casks (trading as Whisky Investment Partners) and London Cask Co. had made “misleading” claims in their campaigns and promotions about potential returns on investment and the risks involved in investing in whisky casks, as well as on fees, terms, and conditions that applied to customer contracts.


The body published the results of its investigations into the two companies on 23 August. Of the four issues that were investigated against each company, all were upheld. 


In addition to giving misleading information on returns, risks, and fees (complaints levelled against both companies), the London Cask Co. was found to have improperly used logos that implied the company had received awards or endorsement from outside organisations, while Whisky Investment Partners was accused of irresponsibility by the ASA in “[taking] advantage of consumers’ inexperience and credulity by suggesting that whisky investment was a suitable choice for retirement funds or for investment of savings”.


Responding to the ASA's report, both companies refuted the claims that they misled consumers in their information pertaining to fees, terms, and conditions.


Whisky Investment Partners said it did not believe that it was selling a financial product, its justification being that “consumers were not always purchasing whisky casks as an investment; they could bottle the whisky for personal consumption”. Therefore, the company felt its ads “did not need to include the information that was required for such products”, such as that the value of investments could go down as well as up. It added that all consumers were “provided with the necessary information” before entering into a contract.


London Cask Co. said that it “did not believe the references to different amounts of return were misleading” and that it “believed that the ads made clear that the returns were not guaranteed by use of appropriate risk warnings”. On the point about misleading logos, the company said the logos had been included in advertising materials “for reader interest only”. 


In its summary, the ASA called for the immediate removal of the companies' adverts “in the form complained about” and said any future adverts must make it sufficiently clear that the value of investments in cask whisky could go down as well as up, that past performance was not necessarily a guide for future performance, and that cask whisky investments were unregulated, as well as not omitting material about applicable fees, terms, and conditions.

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