BIID censured by advertising watchdog

ASA rules that claim to be 'leading professional body for interior designers' was misleading

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The UK’s advertising watchdog has upheld a complaint against a professional organisation representing British interior designers which claimed to be the leading body of its kind.

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The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) described itself on its website as “the UK’s leading professional organisation for interior designers”, drawing the ire of the Society of British and International Interior Design (SBID), which submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The SBID suggested that the claim was misleading and questioned whether it could be substantiated.

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In response, the BIID said that it was one of only two UK-based professional organisations for interior designers – the other being the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) – and that their claim to be the leading group was backed up by its significantly larger membership.

Furthermore, the body questioned whether the SBID met the commonly accepted understanding of the term ‘professional organisation’ because they did not publish their member list on their website. The ASA rejected this argument, on the grounds that the consumer could not be expected to share this definition.

The advertising standards body noted that the BIID “excluded other interior design organisations, such as the complainant, on the basis that the complainant had not listed their members or specified a length of term of directors”.

“However, we considered that consumers would not interpret the claim so rigidly and would instead understand the claim to be referring to all organisations for interior design professionals, including the complainant.

“We therefore did not consider that a comparison with only one competitor was adequate to demonstrate that BIID had the highest number of members relative to other interior design organisations/member bodies in the UK. For those reasons, we considered that BIID had not provided adequate evidence to substantiate the claim and concluded that it was misleading.

The ASA ruling found that the use of the phrase breached CAP Code rules 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading advertising) 3.7 (Substantiation) 3.33 and 3.35 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).

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The watchdog ruled that the offending phrase must not be used in any future advertising without accompanying clarification. The BIID’s website currently describes the body as “the UK’s only professional institute for interior designers”.