The group representing the victims of the fraud, including the former ‘deal or no deal’ presenter, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the bank’s ‘by your side’ claim used in a TV advert was misleading.
The advert showed a black horse galloping through the countryside and on a beach, with a voiceover that said, ‘Yesterday, today, and tomorrow we have been and always will be by your side’.
Text on the advert said, ‘By your side for over 250 years’ and music in the background with the lyrics ‘We’ve come a long, long way together, through the hard times and the good’.
Keystone Law, which represented victims of fraud including Noel Edmonds, objected to Lloyds Bank’s actions to address the crimes and challenged whether the advert was misleading.
The complainant said Lloyds had not supported or been ‘by the side’ of the victims of the HBOS fraud.
In response, Lloyds said the ‘by your side’ claim signified the services the bank provided and was a summary of the reliability, accessibility and security provided to customers.
The advert had not promoted a specific product or service so could not be misleading.
Lloyds added the proportion of companies impacted by the fraud at the HBOS branch prior to acquisition by Lloyds was equivalent to less than 0.001% of their 1.1m business customer base.
The ASA sided with Lloyds Bank.
The regulator said the advert did not reference the HBOS fraud case or steps it had taken regarding compensating victims of fraud in general.
In a written ruling ASA said: “We did not consider that viewers would interpret the claim ‘by your side” to be a commentary on the situation of the victims of the HBOS fraud case, or to think that it was directly connected to their engagement with Lloyds bank in 2018.
“Further, in the context of a general brand promotional ad with no references to fraud, we did not consider the details of the HBOS fraud case to be material information that needed to be included in the ad to prevent consumers from being misled.
“For those reasons, we concluded the ad was unlikely to mislead.”