ASA Adjudication on The Open College Network South East Region Ltd
The Open College Network South East Region Ltd t/a
Laser Learning Awards
15 August 2012
Internet (on own site)
Number of complaints:
A brochure and website for www.laser-awards.org.uk (Laser), seen in June 2012, stated "Laser Learning Awards, (LASER for short) is the new name for OCNSER, under which we are continuing to register and certificate all our OCN, Access and NOCN qualification products. The brochure also included references to OCN.
Virtuoso Legal, on behalf of their client, The National Open College Network (NOCN), challenged whether the references to NOCN and OCN were misleading and implied endorsement.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Laser Learning Awards (Laser) supplied several documents citing their company and Charity Commission registration relating to their name "The Open College Network South East Region Limited" which they abbreviated to OCNSER. A separate document from Ofqual recognised the 'Open College Network South East Region (OCNSER)' and 'Laser Learning Awards' to offer qualifications. They also supplied a document regarding a transitional agreement between them and the NOCN, due to complete on 31 July 2012 which allowed Laser to "undertake, on NOCN's behalf, the delivery or award ... of the NOCN Qualifications ... until midnight on 31 July 2012." Laser said, references to OCN and NOCN were factually accurate and provided appropriate information for customers during the transitional period.
They also said, as they were now trading under their new name, it was factually correct to refer to their previous name, OCNSER, and were not using the logo of NOCN. Laser said that the website, subject to the complaint, had been revised prior to receiving notification of the complaint.
The advertiser said that the reference to OCN in their brochure "Customer support that takes the tried and tested OCN style of working and enhances it ... We have already cut our annual admin fee for colleges from the OCN level" was based on factual accuracy as they had traded as an OCN for over 20 years. They said the wording highlighted their move to a new offering as an Awarding Organisation.
The text on the web page stated "the new name" and "We've changed our name" which the ASA understood was a reference to Laser's re-branding. The advertiser also supplied us with their brochure which had highlighted text on the front page stating "The NEW Awarding Organisation for London & the South".
Although we noted the website and brochure did make explicit references to OCN and NOCN, it also made two clear references to Laser's new name in the context of their previous name. Because they were recognised under their new name by various official bodies and because both parties were in a transitional period, we concluded that the website and brochure were not misleading and did not imply endorsement.
We investigated the ads under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.50 (Endorsements and testimonials) but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.