A TV ad for an electric nail buffer featured a voice-over stating, "Say hello to naturally beautiful, shiny nails" while images of fingers with shiny nails were shown. The ad then demonstrated the product in use, showing a finger with a matte nail being smoothed and then shined, with the nail becoming glossy and reflective, while the voice-over stated "Simply smooth then shine to reveal naturally beautiful nails in seconds". The ad then showed a hand with shiny nails and ended with an image of the product while on-screen text stated "Naturally beautiful nails in seconds" and the voice-over said, "Bring out your natural shine with new Micronail".
Six complainants challenged whether the product demonstration in the ad misleadingly exaggerated the likely effect that could be achieved by consumers.
Lifes2good UK Ltd stated that no false nails had been used in the filming of the ad and provided pre-production stills of the product-use sequence to demonstrate this. They said that the hand model had a slightly raised nail bed, and that she had been chosen because this shape provided a better angle on which to capture the shine on the nail. They stated that users would normally be inclined to move their nail around until the light optimised the shine, but that this was impractical for shooting an ad so they had instead passed a fluorescent light tube across the nail so that viewers could clearly see the end result. They also provided a sample of the product.
Clearcast stated that they considered the ad to be an accurate and genuine representation of how the product worked, with the demonstration filmed 'as is' on a real model and with real nails. They said that the advertiser naturally wished to show the product in the best light and that in order to achieve this had adopted what Clearcast considered to be reasonable measures within a studio setting, with respect to lighting only. They therefore were of the opinion that the demonstration sequence was not misleading, and that the ad did not exaggerate the results a consumer could expect to achieve.
Clearcast provided the results of a consumer research trial that stated almost unanimous agreement amongst the 150 participants with the statement "The MICRO nail buffs and shines nails in seconds" and said that this was included in on-screen text. They considered that this was strong consumer perception data, which supported the ability of the product to produce the results shown in the demonstration sequence.
The ASA noted the pre-production stills provided by Lifes2good and considered they demonstrated that real nails were used to film the ad and that the product was generally capable of producing shiny nails. This conclusion was further borne out by our experience of the product sample provided for testing. We noted that some post-production techniques had been used to brighten the colour of the nail, to whiten the nail tip, to neaten the reflection line and to tidy the boundary of the nail bed as they appeared in the post-shining image. The ad also made repeated references to shiny nails and, apart from the demonstration sequence, there were further images of shiny nails that we considered to be congruent with the un-edited images we had seen and the results we were able to reproduce with the product. However, we considered that the editing carried out was directly relevant to the claimed ability of the product to produce shiny nails, as the reflection itself had been enhanced, and that this exaggerated the capabilities of the product as regards being able to shine nails. We also noted that the ad made references to "beautiful nails" and that the other alterations, such as neatening of the nail bed and whitening of the tip, were directly related to nail condition and appearance, but could not be achieved through use of the product. Although the ad contained some images that did not appear to have been enhanced in these ways, we considered that the primary focus of the ad was the demonstration sequence and that the before and after images were particularly likely to indicate to consumers the results they could expect to achieve. We therefore considered that the ad exaggerated the results that consumers could expect to achieve in a manner that was likely to mislead.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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) and 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Lifes2good UK Ltd to ensure that future ads did not feature post-production techniques that exaggerated the results consumers could expect to achieve with the product in a manner that was likely to mislead.