Claims on a www.amazon.co.uk product page for a mobile device app stated "Anti Mosquito Plus ... Product Description 'Anti mosquito Plus' is an application that repels female mosquitoes (the ones that bite) using ultrasonics inaudible to human ears or nearly. Quick Tip: Each family of mosquito is sensitive to a frequency so test each of them ... Daily timer: It allows you to broadcast daily ultrasound at a specific time in the application options ... The best mosquito repellent with timer, widget, repeating daily ...".
An internet user challenged whether the efficacy claims for the app were misleading and could be substantiated.
Amazon Europe Core Sarl (Amazon) said the app developer had uploaded the product description and they were not aware of any substantiation the developer may have had in support of the app. Accordingly, they removed the app from the website.
Kydroid, the app developer, said they had copied the functionality of ultrasonic mosquito repellent products available in supermarkets. Although they did not hold scientific evidence, they had, however, tested it themselves. They explained that having seen positive reviews online about their app, they uploaded it to Amazon.
The listing stated that the app was sold by Amazon, and not the app developer. In addition, it appeared on the main part of their website and not in the third-party seller's Marketplace. For those reasons, the ASA was satisfied that Amazon was the advertiser and and as such, they held responsibility for compliance with the Code.
The product listing stated "Anti mosquito plus is an application that repels … mosquitoes … using ultrasonics …". We considered that claim was likely to be interpreted one about the application's (the App) efficacy to repel and prevent mosquito bites. Therefore, we expected Amazon to hold robust scientific evidence, ideally in the form of randomised clinically controlled trials carried out on humans. Those studies should demonstrate how ultrasonic technology, when delivered through the App on a mobile device, repelled mosquitoes. In addition, the listing also claimed "Each family of mosquito is sensitive to a frequency so test each of them" which implied the App could also be used against mosquito species not found in the UK. Consequently, we expected their evidence to include studies carried out on all species of mosquito.
Amazon did not provide evidence in support of their claims, but we welcomed their assurance they had removed the product listing complained about. Because we had not seen any evidence from either Amazon or the app developer which demonstrated how ultrasonic technology delivered through the App could repel mosquitoes, we concluded the efficacy claims had not been substantiated and were likely to mislead.
The claims 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)
We welcomed that Amazon Europe Core Sarl had already removed the listing. We told them to not to repeat efficacy claims for anti-mosquito/mosquito repelling apps using ultrasonic technology unless they held suitably robust evidence.