Lewis Silkin represents Wieden+Kennedy in ASA investigation in to Booking.com ad
19 February 2015
Lewis Silkin LLP has successfully acted for advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy to help it clear its use of the word ‘booking’ in TV adverts for travel website Booking.com with the advertising watchdog.
LONDON – City law firm Lewis Silkin LLP has successfully acted for advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy to help it clear its use of the word ‘booking’ in TV adverts for travel website Booking.com with the advertising watchdog.
Complainants stated that the use of the word ‘booking’ was as an apparent substitute for an expletive and said that the substitute was offensive and could encourage children to swear. However the Advertising Standards Authority today (18 February 2015) said that the word was used comically and that the use of the word’ booking’ was sufficiently dissimilar to an expletive.
The ruling gave weight to Wieden+Kennedy’s and Booking.com’s argument that the purpose of the ad was to reinforce brand recognition and association in respect of the word 'booking' as both a company name and website URL. The Authority stated that it was unlikely to be recognised by children as a reference to a swear word by those who were not already familiar with the word or associated phrases, and that children would infer that the term was being used as a reference to the advertiser’s brand.
The TV ad featured scenes of various people arriving at their holiday destinations. The voice-over stated: "This holiday has been a year in the planning. And here you are standing, nay staring down your dreams. The rest of your holiday hinges on the moment you walk through that door. The door opens, you hold your breath and then you realise. You got it right. You got it booking right. Because it doesn't get any better than this. It doesn't get any booking better than this. Look at the view, look at the booking view……”
The Authority found that while the word was repeated throughout the ad no offensive language was used in the ad and the word 'booking' was clearly enunciated. As such they considered there was no ambiguity that the voice-over artist was stating the word 'booking', a word that was directly relevant and central to Booking.com’s brand. They said that at all times the word was used in a positive tone that conveyed enthusiasm and joy, rather than any negative or derogatory tones often associated with swear words.
The Lewis Silkin team was led by partner and Head of Advertising & Marketing Brinsley Dresden, working alongside Associate Daniel Bugler.
Brinsley Dresden, partner and Head of Advertising & Marketing at Lewis Silkin, said:
“Lewis Silkin was pleased to work with Wieden+ Kennedy and Booking,com on this case, and help them secure a favourable result which makes it clear that the word booking is central to how the company brands itself, and to demonstrate that the word ‘booking’ is not offensive.
“Today’s result is re-assuring for brand owners. In not upholding the complaints, the ASA has acknowledged the long history of word substitution in British humour which often appears in family entertainment, and we are happy common sense has prevailed.”
For more information please contact:
Business Development and Marketing Manager
Tel: 020 7074 8260