Financial firm condemned for exploiting
September 11 attacks
LONDON - A financial company that sought to exploit the September 11 terrorist attacks to sell PEPs and ISAs has been slammed by the advertising watchdog, after the public complained its mailout was "shameless, disgusting and offensive".
Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management sent out a direct mailing entitled "What now? America under attack". It stated that "visions of buildings crumbling will paralyse the American consumer".
It went on to say: "Today, investors could sensibly pursue the strategy of increasing liquidity in their portfolios -- it doesn't seem wrong to me today to sell poor performing investments and look to real quality such as gilt-edged stock or even hold cash pending a further possible shakeout in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre disaster."
The Advertising Standards Authority received complaints from all over England about the advertisement. People objected that it attempted to use a tragedy as a tasteless marketing ploy, with no regard to those who had lost their lives. People also objected that it could distress people who had lost friends in the tragedy.
Hargreaves Lansdown argued that it had received enquiries from clients and the public in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and that they believed that people's fear was made worse by lack of information. The company also said it was sorry if it had caused distress to any of the 400,000 recipients.
The ASA ruled that the timing of the mailout and the fact the wording "could appear sensationalist and opportunist" meant it was likely to cause widespread offence to those who had lost friends or family in the attacks.
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