Everything’s 4-star, except the hotel…

Earlier this year, budget hotel chain Premier Inn claimed in its UK newspaper advertisements that it offered “everything you’d expect from a 4* hotel”.

Having worked in the ad industry, I know there’s inevitably a certain amount of poetic licence in the promotion of products and services. Sometimes, however, boundaries get crossed. I protested to the Advertising Standards Authority about the misleading nature of the claim and was pleased to see this week that the watchdog ruled against the Whitbread-owned business, saying that the ads breached three sections of the relevant codes of practice.

As I frequently tell my students, however, the British regulatory system tends to be rather toothless. The ads won’t appear again with the same form of words. But the campaign is now over and some months have elapsed since the original insertions. Is there any way we could create a system that works faster and carries more clout?