Ad campaign backfires

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Another mortgage company came forward yesterday to claim its free television exposure from the Direct Line financial services company as its latest advertising campaign turns into a major embarrassment.

Scottish Widows took up the so-called Direct Line Challenge on four facets of its customer service and appeared in three advertisements on primetime television last night paid for, as promised in the original challenge, by Direct Line. Direct Line has already had to accommodate First Direct in its commercials, and media buyers estimate that the airtime it has given to its rivals is so far worth at least pounds 500,000.