Summary of Council decision:
Seven issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
The website www.jean-patrique.co.uk and an e-mail from Direct Response Fulfilment t/a Jean-Patrique:
a. A pop up on entering www.jean-patrique.co.uk stated "3 ways to SAVE up to 90% on your favourite cooking needs … FEATURED IN THESE: Telegraph DAILY EXPRESS The Mail THE TIMES".
b. The home page of www.jean-patrique.co.uk stated "... Jean-Patrique® is one of the UK's favourite cookware suppliers, and with over 500,000 satisfied customers in the UK alone, we offer you the opportunity to buy professional cookware …".
c. The e-mail was headed "Award Winning Electronic Salt and Pepper Mills - 80% OFF plus Bonus Gift". Text stated "… Electric Clearance Event! - ONLY £10 -Normally £49.99 [crossed through] +P&P - YOU SAVE £55! - Attention: Offer only valid whilst stocks last!". Against an image of an electric one touch can opener, text stated "Normally £14.99 [crossed through] - FREE +p&p". Text at the bottom of the page stated "Our charge for post, packing, insurance, administration and handling is ?4.99 [sic]".
A complainant challenged whether:
1. ad (a) suggested Jean-Patrique had featured in editorial material of the publications listed, because she understood that they had appeared in paid-for advertisements only;
2. the use of a symbol for a registered trademark against the name "Jean-Patrique" in ad (b) was misleading, because she understood that the name was not trademarked;
3. the claim "over 500,000 satisfied customers in the UK" in ad (b) was misleading and could be substantiated;
4. the claims "Clearance Event" and "while stocks last" in ad (c) were misleading, because she noted the mill continued to be on sale several weeks later;
5. the advertised previous selling price of £49.99 for the salt and pepper mills in ad (c) was misleading and could be substantiated;
6. the claim "FREE" in ad (c) with reference to the can opener was misleading, because customers were required to pay £4.99 for "post, packing, insurance, administration and handling;" and
7. the image of the salt and pepper mills in ad (c) was misleading because, having purchased one, she found that it had the Jean-Patrique logo imprinted onto it.
Jean-Patrique did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
1. ‒ 7. Upheld
The ASA was concerned by Jean-Patrique's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We noted Jean-Patrique had not supplied evidence which substantiated the claims or information which addressed the other issues that had been challenged. Because of that, we concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code.
On points 1.‒ 7., the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. and 3.4.1 3.4.1 the main characteristics of the product (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation), 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices), 3.24.1 3.24.1 the consumer has to pay packing, packaging, handling or administration charges for the "free" product (Free), 3.31 3.31 Marketing communications must not falsely claim that the marketer is about to cease trading or move premises. They must not falsely state that a product, or the terms on which it is offered, will be available only for a very limited time to deprive consumers of the time or opportunity to make an informed choice. (Availability) and 3.51 3.51 Marketing communications must not falsely claim that the marketer, or other entity referred to in the marketing communication, is a signatory to a code of conduct. They must not falsely claim that a code of conduct has an endorsement from a public or other body. (Endorsements and testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Jean-Patrique to ensure that their ads did not suggest they had featured in editorial material or that their name was trademarked if that was not the case; to ensure they held evidence for any specific claims, previous selling prices or visual impressions and not to describe products as "free" if the customer was required to pay packing, packaging, handling or administration charges for the "free" product. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.