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Agency rapped by watchdog over ‘misleading’ advert

An East Midlands estate agency has had a regional press advert banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). 

Kirk Estates Ltd had two issues investigated by the advertising watchdog after being reported by Spicerhaart. 

The ad in question featured a venn diagram which showed the number of properties on Zoopla and Rightmove.


The diagram was divided into ‘Properties unique to Rightmove’, ‘Properties unique to Zoopla’ and ‘Properties unique to Rightmove and Zoopla’. 

Underneath the diagram a table gave the number of visitors, agents and properties available on each, and stated that 554,000 and 727,000 properties were on Zoopla and Rightmove respectively.

The headline of the advert read: "Different audiences use Rightmove & Zoopla that's why at Kirk Estates we use BOTH to market your property" and a footnote stated that information had been sourced from theadvisory.co.uk.

Spicerhaart challenged that the claim that distinct segments of the property buying public were exclusive to specific portals was misleading and could be substantiated.

It also argued that the way in which the data was presented was misleading.

Kirk Estates – which operates in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Rutland - responded that they understood the figures to be accurate because they were published by the portals and made available to the public. 

The agency also said that after carrying out its own internal survey it determined that some individuals preferred one portal and some the other, but that the majority use one first and then the other, in order to benefit from functions on both sites.

The ASA decided to uphold the complaint and has ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.   

The watchdog says that the diagram showing segments representing properties exclusive to each site would be understood by consumers as a statement that both portals contained property listings that were only available on that site and not on any others.

What’s more, the ASA said that while it understood that Kirk Estates had obtained the information on behalf of a third party (The Advisory), it is the responsibility of the advertiser to provide evidence to substantiate the accuracy of the diagram. 

EAT has spoken to James Kirk, managing director of Kirk Estates. 

Kirk, who used to work for Foxtons, says he was relying on credible factual evidence that is put in the public domain on a regular basis by both Zoopla and Rightmove.

“I was merely trying to advertise something in a visual way and have since been told that some of the figures published were perhaps being under-estimated,” he says. 

“As an independent agent that has not gone with OnTheMarket and retained Rightmove and Zoopla, it is important to put together dynamic and creative advertising that reflects this to give us an edge over our competition.”

Kirk says he stands by the assertion that some web users solely use Zoopla or Rightmove to look at property listings and information.

  • Trevor Mealham

    May have been easier to have just said - we advertise on two of the UK's main portals. ...... Agents are getting bogged down with more red factual tape than ever before, whilst the portals they go on are allowing in budget marketeers who cut commissions up.

  • Trevor Mealham

    Now Paul Smith MD of Spicer did make statement that OnTheMarket would be the UK's No.2 portal in 12 months. So if Joe Public bought into that as would be a fact, will the ASA take action when it fails to become No.2, for all those vendors who had expected it to be.

  • Rob  Davies

    This does seem a bit petty on behalf of Spicerhaart. I'm not sure the ASA had good enough grounds to ban the advert outright - the wording could just have been changed slightly.

  • Rob  Davies

    Exactly, Trevor. Spot on.

    Fair's fair, and I hope he's held to his word over that. Because it sure as hell isn't going to be the UK's number 1 portal in 12 months time!

  • icon

    An interesting story - looks like they were a bit unlucky. Also, I think the agent has a point. Z and RM publish stats about their traffic etc most months. It would also be interesting to hear what the Advisory has to say about it all...

  • Karl Knipe

    Yes, does seem a bit over-the-top. But I'm sure the ASA had its reasons.

    As you say, Trevor, this might come back to bite Paul Smith and Spicerhaart at a later date, especially with the sort of comments he's made about OTM.

    I also agree with John Bamonte that Mr Kirk has a point with regards to RM and Z.

  • Tim Gorgulu

    Does seem excessively harsh. Wasn't he just stating the truth?

    Like Trevor, I look forward to Paul Smith retracting his words when his premonition is proved wrong.


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