Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A paid-for Facebook ad for Airsorted, a management service for Airbnb hosts, seen on 3 May 2018. The ad featured the claim "The world's largest management company for Airbnb and more".
Hostmaker Ltd challenged whether the claim was:
1. misleading and could be substantiated; and
1. & 2. Airsorted Ltd stated that they used the term “World’s largest” because they operated in more cities and more countries than their competitors. They provided a list of competitors that had operations in both one country and at multi-country level.
Airsorted also stated that based on publicly available information from their competitors, they managed more properties overall. They stated that the information was verifiable on both their own and their competitors’ websites.
The ASA considered that the claim “The world’s largest management company for Airbnb and more” would be interpreted by consumers to mean that Airsorted were the largest company in the world to offer the service of Airbnb management, by way of the most properties managed around the world.
We noted that Airsorted stated that they managed more properties in total than their competitors. However, because Airsorted had not provided any evidence to demonstrate that was the case, we concluded that the claim was misleading.
On that point, 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), 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) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
We considered that the claim would be understood as a comparison between the services offered by Airsorted and all of their competitors, and that it was a comparison with identifiable competitors.
The CAP Code required comparisons with identifiable competitors to be verifiable. That meant that an ad which featured a comparison with an identifiable competitor, including one that could be identified by implication, needed to include, or direct a consumer to sufficient information to allow them to understand the comparison, and be able to check the claim was accurate, or ask someone suitably qualified to do so.
The ad did not provide any information to ensure consumers were able to check the comparative claim, nor did it include a signpost to information on the basis of that comparison.
Therefore, because the ad did not allow consumers to verify the comparison, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.35 3.35 They must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products, which may include price. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Airsorted to ensure that future ads did not make claims by comparison with identifiable competitors, unless they possessed robust documentary evidence, and that such comparisons were verifiable.