TV ads promoting 1&1’s new gTLD pre-registration services have been banned from the UK’s airwaves after being ruled “likely to mislead” by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ads were part of probably the biggest new gTLD marketing outreach to date, a worldwide campaign I’ve heard is costing 1&1 up to $80 million. The UK ad stated:
Do you own a company? Or an online shop? Are you an estate agent? Or a car dealer? Are you from London? Or maybe Scotland? Are you looking for a great new web or e-mail address? Then choose from over 700 new domains. Pre-order yours for free, before someone else does, and link it to your website.
The ASA ruled that the ads would have led consumers to believe that they would definitely get the name they pre-registered as soon as it became available.
In fact, of course, allocation is dependent largely on registry policy, Sunrise registrations, name collisions blocking, and whatever other barriers ICANN can think up in the meantime.
The ASA said in its decision:
Whilst we considered consumers would understand the reference to ‘pre-order’ to mean that the domain names were not currently available, we considered they would understand the ad to mean that they could place an order with 1&1 Internet that would secure their chosen domain name when it became available. However, we understood that that was not the case and that upon receipt of a pre-order, 1&1 Internet would pass on the customer’s request to the relevant domain name registry, who would apply their own allocation process when the requested domain name became available. We therefore considered the presentation of the ad was likely to mislead.
The ad therefore “must not appear again in its current form”, the ASA ruled.