AMP's misleading advertising campaign - our complaint upheld

You may have heard of the "Is it me?" advertising campaign that ran earlier this year targeting the 400,000 or so KiwiSaver default fund members. On radio ads, they stated ‘there are over 400,000 in default KiwiSaver funds’, then ‘are you one of them?’ and ‘you could be missing out’.  Listeners were directed to a website called ‘IsItMe.co.nz’ where they could enter their IRD number to find out.

The print side of the campaign featured large posters in bus stops around the country including this one “Over 195 people in Henderson could be missing out. Are you one? IsItMe.co.nz”.

At first glance, this campaign seems legitimate and a great way to assist KiwiSaver default fund members to find their provider and make decisions so that their KiwiSaver is invested appropriately for them.

But, the ‘IsItMe.co.nz’ website link is simply an alias for AMP’s own homepage. And that’s where alarm bells started to ring for John and Rachelle.

There are nine default KiwiSaver providers, of which AMP is one. As at 31 March 2019, AMP had around 103,000 members in their default KiwiSaver fund. By entering your IRD number on the site, you were not checking against 400,000 plus records of default KiwiSaver fund members, you were only checking against 103,000 or so AMP customers.

So if you entered your IRD number and were not in the AMP scheme, the page would respond

“Hmm, maybe it’s not you? You may have a KiwiSaver account, just not with us. Your provider will be able to tell you if you are in a default fund. Alternatively, it might be a good time to switch to the AMP KiwiSaver Scheme.”

with a ‘Join us today’ button prominently placed on the screen immediately below.

John and Rachelle complained to the FMA and the Advertising Standards Authority in March 2019 saying that the advertising campaign was misleading and inappropriate behaviour for a default KiwiSaver provider.   

The Advertising Standards Authority’s Complaints Board upheld the complaint, saying that the “advertisement was likely to mislead and confuse consumers” and requested the campaign be withdrawn. AMP appealed the decision, which John and Rachelle rebutted, and in July 2019, the Appeals Board ruled the complaint was upheld and the appeal by AMP was dismissed.

You can read the full decision here which includes our 17 point rebuttal of the AMP appeal.

While the appeal was underway, the advertising campaign was entered into the NZ Marketing awards and it is currently a sector award finalist.  This decision by the Advertising Standards Board, made public on 17 July 2019, will probably ensure they do not win!  The campaign is no longer running.