Carsguide’s ad campaign against rivals Carsales ruled misleading and deceptive by court

Online car classified website has won its court case against rival over a recent ad campaign which it said was misleading and deceptive.

CarsGuide billboard 2The Victorian Supreme Court today upheld Carsales’ argument that many of the representations made in the campaign, which started on June 15, were false.

Among the claims made in the case were that sells a consumer’s contact details to dealers, that passes on a consumer’s details to dealers without the consumer’s knowledge and that a consumer’s details are provided to a range of dealers if the consumer enquires about a car using the website.

Justice Judd in his ruling said: “I find that by making the representations through its advertising campaign the defendant has engaged in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive the Australian public contrary to section 18 of the Australian Consumer Law”.

One execution of the campaign, created by BWM Dentsu, saw CarsGuide position a lightning embossed blimp directly over competitor CarSales’ head office in Melbourne alongside a billboard reading ‘Let lightning strike those who sell your contact details to dealers’.

The judge also ruled that: “The defendant’s attempt to explain or justify the purpose of its advertising campaign was unpersuasive. It was superficial and internally inconsistent. It would be fanciful to concede that the defendant was disinterested in the value to its client dealers…”

Publicly listed Carsales this afternoon trumpeted its victory in a statement CEO Greg Roebuck said: “We saw the campaign as trying to damage the relationship of trust that carsales has established with consumers over many years.

“We see this decision as a win for both us and the consumer, who will now not be subjected to these misleading advertisements.”

In a statement issued this afternoon Carsguide CEO Lauren Williams said: “Since early 2015, Carsguide has not charged dealers on a leads model basis.

“Unfortunately the court found that the advertisements conveyed misleading representations. Carsguide regrets this.”

Nic Christensen and Miranda Ward 

Update 2.50pm Carsguide CEO Lauren Williams has issued the following statement:

“We were today unsuccessful in being able to continue Carsguide’s latest advertising campaign.

“In 2014, Carsguide introduced an approach to advertising cars that generally gives customers the choice to remain anonymous until they know who and where a dealer is.

“Since early 2015, Carsguide has not charged dealers on a leads model basis.

“Unfortunately the court found that the advertisements conveyed misleading representations.

“Carsguide regrets this.

“On the Carsguide website, you can get the dealer’s name and exact location without entering contact details for almost every dealer car listed.  We think this is a benefit to consumers.”


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