Stansted Express told to remove misleading advert

Stansted Express has been banned from using a poster that wrongly implied that the train would take passengers to central London in 35 minutes.

In fact, in this time it can only reach the London borough of Haringey, a good six miles from Trafalgar Square in Central London. Tottenham Hale’s main attractions, apart from the train station, are its retail park and a shuttle bus, which can take you to the local Ikea.

Various posters at Stansted Airport used the text ’Train to London 35 minutes’ with images of landmarks including Big Ben, the London Eye and Nelson’s Column, in part to help the many passengers not fluent in English.

One person complained that the advert was misleading, saying the poster implied that the train could reach central London in 35 minutes. The Advertising Standards Authority agrees and has banned National Express, which runs the Stansted service, from using the poster again.

The company argued that international passengers arriving at the airport made up 58 per cent of the train’s business, with many not speaking or understanding fluent English.

The company therefore used simple and concise messages to communicate that an express train service was available from the airport to London.

It had used an internationally recognisable train symbol to show the mode of transport to London, together with a 35-minute symbol which indicated the journey time from the airport to Tottenham Hale. From there, passengers could connect with the Victoria line on the London Underground and travel on to central London destinations.

It did not believe the ads made any reference to the train getting to central London in 35 minutes, adding that all trains from the airport continued on to Liverpool Street station, which was in the heart of the city.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) noted that the journey to central London took 45 minutes and that the images on the posters “strongly implied” that the train would take passengers to the city centre directly from the airport.

It added: “We understood that many travellers would not necessarily speak English and that the use of tourist landmarks was intended to communicate a simple message. However, we considered that the simplicity of the message could potentially confuse visitors about where in the city they would get to in 35 minutes.”

It ruled that the ad was likely to mislead passengers and should not appear again in its current form.

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