Irresponsible Payday Loan Ad Banned in UK

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The British Advertising Standards Authority has banned a payday loan advertisement for suggesting that short-term, high interest loans can be used to fund a celebrity lifestyle.

The ad, which promoted payday loans offered by PDB UK’s Cash Lady, features media personality and former girl group member Kerry Katona. Katona, who filed for bankruptcy in 2008, references her own financial difficulties throughout the commercial.

"We've all had money troubles at some point, I know I have,” she said in the ad. The ad focused on the ease of accessing cash quickly through payday loans, as opposed to through a bank. Or, as the Cash Lady slogan says, “Fast cash for fast lives."

The ASA received 29 complaints claiming that the ad “was irresponsible because it focused on Kerry Katona's financial crisis and encouraged people in similar situations to borrow money,” according to the ASA’s ruling on the matter.

In response to these complaints, PDB UK said that they did not believe that the ad encouraged individuals with similar financial situations to Katona — specifically bankrupt individuals — to use payday loans to solve long-term financial situations.

Additionally, because their loans are limited to £300, they are aimed at those experiencing “relatively low-level short-term financial difficulties with a need to bridge a gap between paydays.”

The ASA, however, found that the advertisement did breach the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising rule 1.2, which states “advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.”

In their ruling, the ASA declared that, because Katona’s past financial difficulties and bankruptcy have been well publicized, viewers would infer that Cash Lady’s payday loan service could be a good solution for severe financial difficulties.

The double meaning of the phrase “fast cash for fast lives,” where fast lives could refer to busy lives or a glamourous, celebrity lifestyles, was also addressed in the ruling. The ASA found that the use of a celebrity spokesperson promoted the latter interpretation.

“We noted Cash Lady believed the claim ‘fast cash for fast lives’ would be understood to be a reference to busy working lives and therefore the easy and fast access to cash would be a distinct advantage,” the ruling read. “However, we considered that within the context of the ad, which used [Kerry Katona’s] celebrity as a theme, some viewers would understand the claim to mean that the payday loan would help to fund a celebrity style lifestyle.”

The ASA also flagged the ad over concerns that the loan’s APR was not sufficiently present and for suggesting that a payday loan with an APR of 2,000 percent is better than a bank loan, which was deemed misleading. Both rulings were upheld and the ASA has asked Cash Lady to “to take care with the overall presentation of information of its loans.”