Sainsbury's Bank ad banned by ASA for 'trivialising' credit cards

Sainsbury's has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority after a viewer complained about an ad in which a real couple talk about using a credit card to help pay for the renovation of their house.

The ad, by Sainsbury’s outgoing agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, was seen on TV in June, and juxtaposed shots of the couple talking about their tumultuous experience of doing up their house with clips from archive footage that illustrates their stories.

One person complained to the ad watchdog on the grounds that the spot was irresponsible because it suggested the best way to finance property renovation was with a credit card.

In response to this, Sainsbury’s said the couple, who were found through word of mouth, did not use a credit card to pay for their whole renovation, and it did not believe this was implied.

It added that the product being advertised offered 27 months of interest free credit, which Sainsbury’s said made it suitable for paying for parts of a home renovation.

But the ASA picked up on phrases used by the couple, such as "We kind of went in head-first really", "You got a bit over-excited", "I just started knocking things down" and "We definitely bit off more than we could chew", which it said implied they had not fully considered or been prepared for the consequences of doing the work.

It added that the endline – "It’s never just money, it’s freedom. Credit cards from Sainsbury’s Bank" – reinforced the impression that the card could be used to fix problems that arose during a non-essential project, which overlooking the risks of using credit to resolve such problems.

The ASA ruled that the ad trivialised the process of taking out credit and was therefore irresponsible, and ordered that it not appear again in its current form.

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