Advertising Standards Canada says CREA’s television ad featuring a motorcycle gang is misleading and has violated the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.

The self-regulating advertising industry council says it received two complaints that the commercial “was misleading by identifying services a Realtor does not customarily provide to his or her buyer client.”

Advertising Standards Canada says, “The general impression conveyed by the commercial to council was that a buyer who uses a Realtor would be protected because of the intimate knowledge the buyer’s Realtor has of the negative aspects of the neighbourhood in question. While the seller’s agent may take it upon herself or himself to become knowledgeable about the makeup of the client’s neighbourhood, there was no evidence that both buyers’ and sellers’ agents assume the same degree of responsibility to become thoroughly knowledgeable about the social or less desirable aspects of the neighbourhood in which a house is located.

“Council understood that the commercial was humorous and exaggerated. However, the use of humour in this commercial did not negate the overall impression conveyed to council. Council recognized that the commercial was intended to make the public aware that Realtors in general possess expertise that ordinary buyers do not. However, council found that this execution over-promised what a buyer’s Realtor customarily delivers, and, therefore, was misleading.”

In its reply to the council, CREA says, “The advertiser respectfully disagrees with the council’s conclusion that the ad is misleading. However, the advertiser does agree with the council’s finding that the ad is humorous, exaggerated and intended to make the public aware that Realtors possess expertise that ordinary buyers do not.


  1. When I first read this story I couldn’t help but wonder who filed the complaints. Obviously someone who thinks they know something more than the next person about a REALTOR’s duties, but who could that be, considering that even REALTOR’s need ongoing guidance on Agency Law as it relates to the REALTOR Code of Ethics. It’s almost like the industry has a bullseye on its back! Yet another “watchdog” has befallen the industry.

    Advertising Standards Canada has come under some media scrutiny within the last couple of years, over how they handled their review and reporting of the Conservative government’s $2.5 million campaign (spring 2013) to promote the Canada Jobs Grant, a proposed job-training program — because the ASC didn’t identify it was the Government of Canada they were anonomously describing on their website. When complaints are filed and the respondent causes the matter to go to a determination hearing and is found in violation of the pertinent Act, the offending party is supposed to be identified on the ASC website — however, this doesn’t always happen and the inconsistency seems difficult to explain, around the perception that a hearing must have taken place.

    In any event, the ASC’s assertions here should have been firmly refuted by CREA, but once again CREA seems to have dropped the ball in relation to an outside challenge. The simple fact of the matter is that under Agency Law and in Concert with the REALTOR Code of Ethics, the obligation on the Seller’s and Buyer’s REALTOR’s to discover facts would be exactly the same and would be so viewed in a Court of Law. The ASC’s accusation is bizarre because it speaks to a, national, Regulation issue around enforcement and not to an advertising issue!

    The one legitimate observation that the ASC could have made, would have related to the differences between a seller’s REALTOR when one Seller is a Client and one Seller is but a Customer, or in other words a “mere posting”! However, for CREA to highlight said difference they would be reluctant to do so, out of fear of antagonizing the Competition Bureau of Canada! The ASC shouldn’t have any concerns over antagonizing the Competition Bureau of Canada, or should they?

    As the national governing body for real estate in Canada, CREA has a clear and obvious obligation to defend the industry and when it can’t even defend the basic truths of Agency, someone needs to ask: why the hell not?

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