The term ‘family business’ has many meanings
In a spirit of you’re-no-more-a family-business-than-we-are, Dignity complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about an ad by a Lodge Brothers funeral home in a local paper. In the words of the ASA:
“At E. Wootten & Son we take great pride in being Chippenham’s only family owned and managed Funeral Directors. We have built our reputation through the care and compassion given to the bereaved families whom we have been serving for over 80 years and we continue to uphold the traditional values associated with family owership [sic]”. Text at the bottom of the ad stated “Part of the Lodge family”.
Dignity, a competitor, objected that the ad was misleading because they believed it implied the business was independently run by the Wootten family when it was actually owned by the Lodge Brothers, a large family funeral director that was not local to Chippenham.
The ASA noted text in the ad stated “We at E. Wootten & Son take great pride in being Chippenham’s only family owned and managed Funeral Directors” and “E. Wootten & Son 1926 the family you can turn to” and considered that most readers would interpret this as a claim that E. Wootten & Son was the “family” referred to in the ad and that it was therefore the only independently owned and managed funeral directors in Chippenham. We considered this was further implied by the claim “We have built our reputation through the care and compassion given to the bereaved families whom we have been serving for more than 80 years”, which seemed to relate specifically to the 1926 established date attributed to E. Wootten & Son.
We noted the ad included the text “Part of the Lodge Brothers 1780 Family” and detailed the company website. However, we considered that the small font size and placement of the text at the bottom of the ad, did not make clear that the “family” being referred to in the ad related to Lodge Brothers as opposed to E. Wootten & Son or that the E. Wootten & Son was in fact owned by the larger company and was therefore not an independently owned family funeral directors. We considered that the ad implied that E. Wootten & Son was an independently owned family funeral directors and because this was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1, 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.38 (Other comparisons).
The GFG notes
Lodge Brothers own 39 funeral homes. Other Lodge Brothers funeral homes announce themselves as follows:
G. Boutell & Son the local family owned Funeral Directors in Byfleet
Cecil Newling the local family owned Funeral Directors in Royston has been helping and advising local families for over 50 years.
T.L. Cobbold the local family owned Funeral Directors in St. Neots has been helping and advising local families for over 60 years.
A.E. Smith & Son is the oldest established Funeral Directors in Swindon. This local family owned Funeral Directors has been helping and advising local families for over 125 years.
Brilliant, eh? Local. Family owned. Think one-off. Wrong!
To be fair to the brothers Lodge, most of their funeral home websites make it perfectly clear who owns the business.
Full ASA adjudication here.