Midges and mosquitoes; keeping those irritating insects at bay while we enjoy the warmer, sunnier days of the year has given rise to an entire industry dedicated to warding off the blood-sucking buzzers: body sprays and lotions, scented candles and incense, insecticides (and the traditional swatter). The more technically minded among us can even turn to their smart phones to look for help from mobile apps.

No matter which method you favour personally, however, the CAP Code expects marketers to hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation (rule 3.7). The Code also directs marketers not to materially mislead consumers in their ads (rule 3.1).

Two recent upheld ASA rulings applied those principles to efficacy claims for ultrasonic ‘mosquito repellent’ mobile applications.

Ensure you can prove your claims

The ASA received complaints about two adverts for mobile applications that claimed to use ‘ultrasonic’ technology to effectively scare off mosquitoes. In both investigations, neither the developers nor the mobile app platforms the adverts appeared on were able to provide evidence to support their claims. As a result, the ASA ruled that they should not advertise ultrasonic mosquito apps as being effective mosquito repellents. You can read the full rulings here and here.

To ensure that marketers operate on a level playing field and consumers have access to information they can trust, the CAP Compliance team is currently in the process of advising mobile software distribution platforms about how the ASA rulings affect their advertising for ultrasonic ‘mosquito repellent’ mobile applications.

If you’re in doubt about advertising such apps, please contact CAP Copy Advice for fast, free and confidential advice. The team can also evaluate and advise on the likely acceptability of marketers’ substantiation, if necessary obtaining independent expert opinion.

More information about Substantiation can be found in our AdviceOnline database.

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