Dignity lodges brotherly complaint

Charles Cowling



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





9 thoughts on “Dignity lodges brotherly complaint

  1. Charles Cowling
    andrew plume

    Here’s a link to the relevant site:-


    the Wilcox vehicles look very decent


    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    andrew plume

    ..yes MrXX, more interestng stuff and I seem to recall a snippet in David (Holmes’) website where there was a reference to A&W Goddard/Ford Mears being ‘owned’ by a ‘vehicle business’ and lo and behold of course, that Ford Mears’registered office is one and the same as that for Wilcox

    and from the FM website,….”Ford Mears & Partners is an Independently owned & run funeral business”, which may well be true but some may feel that it is a ‘stand alone’ business, when in fact it’s part of a larger trading Group


    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    andrew plume

    ….yes, the Lodge/Dignity ASA decision has been around for a bit, dating back to last year in fact

    …course, Dignity objected because Lodge t/a E Wootten opened up on their patch in Chippenham, which seems perfectly understandable


    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    David Holmes

    I have to say that almost no-one (excepting the GFG and competitors of those who do this kind of thing) seems in the least bothered by any of this. Certainly not the ASA or Trading Standards. Buyer beware – except most don’t.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    We must keep an eye on them, Mr XX. Thank you for reminding us of a group which we’ve never got to the bottom of. There is some interesting background here. We are indebted to you.

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    Mr XX

    I read this on the ASA website. I also found Select Funerals doing something similar. They have negotiated an agreement with the ASA. They have agreed to make clear the tag ‘independent’ which they use on their variously named funeral businesses in London, Surrey and Hampshire refers to the Group owner GM Luff Ltd, not each individual businesses they own. Each business claims to be an ‘independent’ funeral director in its advertising and premises signage. In fact the Select Funerals business appears to be owned by an offshore trust. The same owners appear to be close to the Wilcox family, owners of the UK’s biggest hearse and limousine dealers and manufacturers. We wait to see if they modify their future advertising as agreed with the ASA.

    Charles Cowling
  7. Charles Cowling

    Quite so, James. Dignity announces itself on its signage but, such has been its genius in creating brand anonymity, you’d hardly notice it, probably wouldn’t. Difficult not to admire the genius in that.

    Charles Cowling
  8. Charles Cowling

    ASA are quite right in their ruling in my view. But it’s interesting that it was Dignity who brought the claim, sailing, as they do, rather close to this particular wind themselves.
    But not in such obvious contravention – more ‘caveat emptor’ territory.

    Charles Cowling
  9. Charles Cowling

    Thanks for posting this Charles, very, very interesting and food for thought. I wonder if sunny St Neots could cope with an ASA ruling along the same lines? That would surely be very bad publicity for a business.

    Charles Cowling

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