Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

Marketers regularly state that products have been seen on television or featured in named publications, perhaps in order to give their products some extra credence.

In 2012, the ASA upheld a complaint about an ad in which the advertiser claimed its products were “As seen in 4Homes” and “As seen on TV”. The ASA acknowledged that the advertiser had supplied programme makers with their product, which had then been used in a home make-over programme. However, because the product was neither explicitly nor implicitly identified, the ASA considered that the claim was not justified.

The same advertiser also claimed that the product was “as seen in” various newspapers and magazines but, in all but one instance, the advertiser had simply paid for advertising in the publications listed. The ASA concluded that the claim “As seen in House Beautiful” was acceptable because the reference to the product had appeared in editorial rather than advertising space. The other claims regarding publications in which the product had appeared were considered unacceptable (Ergoflex Ltd, 21 March 2012). This ruling represents a stricter approach than that which had previously been taken by the ASA (Sasaki International Ltd, 17 February 2010).

Marketers should be aware that claims such as “as seen in magazine X” are unlikely to be considered substantiated merely because an ad for the product in question has appeared in that publication. The ASA is likely to consider that such references imply there has been some form of editorial evaluation, endorsement or independent review. If this is not the case, then marketers should consider amending their claims to “as advertised in...” or similar.

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