The home page of www.lawrencecollection.com was headed “The Lawrence Collection Ireland 1890. Scrolling photographs underneath contained the text “Welcome to the Lawrence Collection Photos of Ireland form (sic) the turn of the 19th Century” and “The Lawrence Collection Ireland 1890”.
Below the text were a range of photographs headed “From the Collections”. And an option to “Find Photos of Your Town in 1890”. One such photograph was a street scene showing vintage cars. The bottom right hand corner of the picture featured the wording
“THE LAWRENCE COLLECTION – Ireland 1890
Order Code: …”
The complainant said that he considered the advertising to be misleading. He said the Lawrence Collection was one of the finest and best known collections of the late 19th Century/early 20th Century in Ireland. Other collections were, he said, less known. He said that while the photograph he had referenced was listed as being from the Lawrence Collection, this was not the case as the cars depicted in the street scene in Raheny were not available until the 1930s. He said that he viewed the entire Lawrence Collection in the National Library of Ireland and the scene as depicted on the advertisers’ website was not part of the collection.
The advertiser said that the images on his website were not labelled, they were watermarked. The watermark was used to deface the image and not identify it chronologically. The image as such, he said, was part of www.lawrence collection.com and not part of “The Lawrence Collection” as held in the National Library of Ireland. The advertiser said that he also considered the marking to be protective of his intellectual and or commercial property and therefore he could not see how it could be considered to be advertising. He also said that the image was information on which customers could base their purchasing decision and did not purport to be from any particular year or time.
The Secretariat informed the advertiser that they considered from their initial examination of his website that the photographs had related to the Original Lawrence Collection. It was also their understanding that the photography for this series finished in 1914. On this basis they asked the advertiser to explain his use of the watermark titled ‘Lawrence Collection 1890’ for photographs which were not part of the Original Lawrence Collection.
The advertiser said he would respond to the Secretariat’s further query and he did so after the issue of the Draft Report. He said that about 2% of his collection was not from the Lawrence Collection and he is considering deleting these from the Catalogue. He also said, however, that purchasers of these pictures are advised that they were not from the original Lawrence Collection.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertiser’s initial response. While noting the additional comments from the advertiser the Committee considered that it was misleading for the advertiser to make reference to “The Lawrence Collection Ireland 1890” in his marketing communications if the photographs on offer were not entirely from that collection. In the circumstances the Complaints Committee upheld the complaint under Sections 2.22 and 2.24 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in its current format again.