Saturday, 14 August 2010
Michele Knight, the Queen of Accuracy
This will probably be my last ASA complaint before a new set of advertising codes come into force next month.
I've come to know the current rules like an old friend. So, with some regret, it's goodbye to Section 3.1, farewell to Section 14.3, and so long to Section 51.8.
I've been saving my final complaint for a very deserving person. By an astounding non-coincidence, this special person is someone who might actually benefit from an advert which doesn't fall foul of Section 51.8.
Meet Michele Knight!
If her name is familiar, perhaps it's because you remember my earlier ASA complaint about the "accurate" psychics she allegedly employs.
Unfortunately, it was one of the complaints the ASA dropped in order to concentrate on two "test cases", both of which were upheld in full.
In her subsequent adverts Michele has brazenly continued to advertise that her psychics can deliver "accurate" readings. (See the latest one here, here and here.)
Well, perhaps Michele actually possesses documentary evidence, observed in controlled laboratory conditions, that can substantiate her unlikely claims. But my money is on a defence (from here autobiography, which I paraphrase here) that goes something like this:
"Before I employ a new psychic, I ask them to tell me something that they couldn't possibly know..."
I hardly need describe the potential problems with that approach - suffice to say, if I were being interviewed, and having read a few books on stage magic, I would lay serious money on being offered the job!
ASA complaint follows. Thanks for the memories!
"I write to complain about an advert appearing in "Soul and Spirit" magazine (Issue 31, Aug 2010, p72-73).
The advert, for Michele Knight, promotes a telephone psychic reading service.
I suspect that the advert may be in breach of three sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide an original copy of the advert by post, if required.
1. The advert includes a series of testimonials attesting to the accuracy of the service's psychic readings.
2. The relevant testimonials consist of the text:
(i) "Honest, straight forward, accurate - Michele is true value for money." (Marie Claire Magazine)
(ii) [About 'Sue C'] "She was so accurate in reading my current situation that it took my breath away. I will definitely book another reading with her in the future. Bea"
(iii) [About 'Steve'] "Steve is an awesome psychic. He didn't ask any questions, was spot on with [his] analysis and his predictions were extremely believable. Jane"
3. The ASA Council has recently ruled (complaint ref. 122556 and 122562) against adverts for psychics whose readings are claimed to be "accurate".
4. Under Sections 3.1, 14.3 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate any of the following claims:
(i) Michele's psychic readings (as attested by Marie Claire) are "accurate"
(ii) "Sue C"'s psychic readings are "accurate"
(iii) "Steve"'s psychic readings are "spot on"
(iv) Any of the psychics employed by the service are capable of giving "accurate" readings
5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the magazine. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."