A leaflet by Advanced Wall Solutions Ltd for Proteks Systems, an exterior wall application, seen on 28 July 2017, invited recipients to contact them for a survey and quotation for their property. Text under the heading "What our customers say" stated "We had the Proteks System applied to our property in 1992 ...". The leaflet contained several photographs of properties where the company claimed the application had been used.
The complainant, who believed Advanced Wall Solutions had been in business only since 2011 and that the photographs and testimonial referred to properties where the work had been undertaken by a different company, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Advanced Wall Solutions said they had secured the rights to the Proteks system in 2010 after the company Scottford Ltd, which had previously marketed it, had ceased trading. They said they had explained to customers that the Proteks system was the same as those that had been applied previously by Scottford Ltd and those that are now applied by Advanced Wall Solutions for customers who had originally had the work done by their predecessor 23 to 28 years before, including the customer featured in the ad. Advanced Wall Solutions supplied a document explaining the closure of Scottford Ltd and letters from the manufacturer of the system that stated that the same grade of coating product previously supplied to Scottford Ltd would be supplied to Advanced Wall Solutions and that it would be sold and marketed by them. They also supplied correspondence with the customers featured in the ad, which contained their statement describing the work that had been done originally in 1992 and again in 2013, and their satisfaction with it.
The ASA considered readers of the leaflet were likely to assume that the photographs showed work undertaken by Advanced Wall Solutions and that the testimonial attributed to Mr and Mrs Binnie referred to work undertaken by them in 1992. We acknowledged that the documentation Advanced Wall Solutions had supplied stated that the product they had supplied to customers since 2010 was the same product previously supplied by Scottford Ltd, and that it also showed that key members of staff had transferred from Scottford Ltd to Advanced Wall Solutions.
However, if a company that had taken over the marketing of a product claimed a trading history that included the time that their predecessor had marketed it, we considered that the new company needed to be able to demonstrate that they had taken over the debts and liabilities, as well as the trading heritage, of the previous company. Because Advanced Wall Solutions had not supplied documentation that demonstrated that they had also taken on the debts and liabilities of the previous company, we concluded that the claims implicit in a testimonial that referred to work in 1992, and the use of photographs of work undertaken by the previous company, had not been substantiated and that the ad was likely to mislead.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 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).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Advanced Wall Solutions Ltd not to make claims about the length of their trading history unless they held adequate evidence. If their claim referred to the trading history of another company, we told them to ensure they could demonstrate that they had taken on the debts and liabilities of that company.