A TV ad for a household condensation and ventilation system included a voice-over which stated, "EnviroVent ... to help reduce condensation, streaming windows or mould problems .... The ad showed a window which was streaming with condensation gradually becoming less wet until it was completely clear and dry. It then showed a patch of black mould in the corner of a room, becoming smaller and less dark until it too, had completely disappeared leaving a clean, clear wall.
The complainant challenged whether the ad exaggerated the product’s capabilities in relation to the removal of black mould.
EnviroVent Ltd said that past installations had shown that after a whole house unit was installed, the mould would dry out and turn brown in colour with a dust-like consistency. They said this would eventually fall off and disappear, but that in some cases, before the mould had disappeared completely, owners/landlords could choose to brush off the dead mould and paint the wall if a stain had been left. They said that on advice from Clearcast the sequence included a clock icon to show the passage of time to ensure that viewers did not think the images in the commercial were in real time.
Clearcast said they had asked for a clock icon to show that in a real time setting, mould would not disappear as fast as seen in the commercial and that the example shown in the ad demonstrated that mould would dry out over time, not immediately.
The ASA noted during the illustration of the product the ad included a clock icon, which showed the passing of time and considered that viewers would understand from this presentation that the mould reducing/removing function of the system happened over a period of time and not immediately.
We considered viewers would understand from the ad that the product would result in black mould completely disappearing from a wall surface without intervention. We noted EnviroVent's comments that the black mould would turn into a brown dust and in most cases would disappear completely without having to re-paint the wall. However, we noted evidence was not submitted to demonstrate that this was the case. Because the mould removal claims had not been substantiated we concluded the capabilities of the product had been exaggerated and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Obvious exaggerations ("puffery") and claims that the average consumer who sees the marketing communication is unlikely to take literally are allowed provided they do not materially mislead.
Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification) and 3.12 3.12 Marketing communications must not present rights given to consumers in law as a distinctive feature of the marketer's offer. (Exaggeration).
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We told EnviroVent Ltd to ensure if held robust evidence to support the efficacy claims for the product.