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The Advertising Regulator bans seven misleading ads in government newspapers

The UK advertising regulator has banned seven ads in government newspapers for their misleading appearance.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the so-called “advertorials” that appeared in the local paper in March were not overtly recognizable as ads.

Advertorials are commercial advertisements presented as articles. It must be regularly recognizable that the article is paid for and not normal editorial content.

MPs had complained about the placements, intended to promote the government’s “leveling” policy.

The department was then headed by Tory MP Michael Gove, who has since returned to the back bench.

They appeared on March 13 on the website of the Grimsby Telegraph, Derby Telegraph, Birmingham Mail, Leicester Mercury and Newcastle Chronicleand further living in Cornwall and Wales Online.

The ASA said that while the ads were flagged, the statements made no reference to the government’s upgrading department, which paid for them.

The supervisory authority said it was also not clear from the accompanying warning text that the following article would also be an advertisement.

The ASA said the “advertorial” label on the home page is small and likely to be overlooked by readers.

“We therefore concluded that the ads were not overtly identifiable as marketing communications,” the ASA said.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form. We have directed the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities and Reach Plc to ensure that all future marketing communications are prominent and clearly identifiable as such.”

The complaints to the ASA were made by Labor MPs Lisa Nandy and Alex Norris.

The editor of the Reach newspaper said readers saw the advertorials through a Facebook or Google ad or the newspaper’s homepage, and all paths to the pages were apparently labeled as marketing communications.

The community department has been asked to comment on this story.

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