George Crump. No, not that one, this one.
It’s the adjudication all we Midlanders have been waiting for: the Advertising Standards Authority ruling on an advertisement which, on 8 July 2011, ran as follows:
George Crump & Son Funeral Directors Est 1895 … Available day or night – Under the personal supervision of Michael J. Crump – Pre-Payment Plans – Monumental Masonry” … incorporating Crumps Florists.
You see that and you suppose what about the business?
And you’d be plumb wrong, of course. Michael Crump sold out to the Midlands Co-op in 2007; it’s not his business, it’s theirs. But he’s a great local character, is Crumpy. He loves conducting funerals. He’s famous for his singing voice and he attends every funeral. Heaven knows how many Rugged Crosses he’s belted out over the years; he can’t get enough of them. So Midlands Co-op has not gone out of its way to kick him out and re-brand. If it had any brand confidence or conviction, of course, it would. It would have proclaimed UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT and the good people of Droitwich would have thought, ‘Crumpy was good, yes, but this is even better.’
Does it matter that this ad may have seduced people into supposing that Michael Crump’s business was still his own?
In a word, no. Because even though people may have supposed that, that’s not what the ad said. In the words of the ASA:
MCO said the ad did not state that George Crump and Son was an independent or family-run funeral business. They said Michael Crump’s name was stated in the ad because bereaved families found it helpful to have the name of a person to ask for when they first made contact with the funeral home. They added that Michael Crump’s wife ran the florist outlet of the funeral home part-time.
We noted the complainant considered the overall impression of the ad was that George Crump & Son was family-owned and family-run, and that the ad was therefore misleading because the company had been owned by MCO since 2007, and Michael Crump was the only member of the family involved in the funeral director business.
We noted the ad did not make any specific claims that the company was family-owned or family-run, and we considered that that was not the overall implication of the ad. Rather, we considered that consumers were likely to infer from the ad that the Crump family were still involved in the business and that therefore the service would have certain family values. We noted we had seen evidence that Michael Crump was heavily involved in the funeral director business and that his wife worked for the associated florists, which meant it was likely that she would also be in personal contact with customers of the funeral business. We therefore considered the ad was not misleading.
Words. Slippery little sods, aren’t they? Even so, that the ASA should have concluded that the inference of the ad was not that this is an independent business is nothing short of astounding.
Full adjudication here.