Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
Claims on www.broquet.co.uk, seen in May 2015, promoted a fuel catalyst product for vehicles. Text stated, “THE FUEL CATALYST Improves fuel combustion which means better MPG and lower CO2 emissions for both petrol and diesel engines ... Cuts emissions by 30 - 50% and improves MPG ... The Broquet Fuel Catalyst makes a positive environmental contribution to a cleaner atmosphere”.
The complainant challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:
1. "THE FUEL CATALYST Improves fuel combustion which means better MPG and lower CO2 emissions for both petrol and diesel engines";
2. "Cuts emissions by 30 - 50% and improves MPG"; and
3. "The Broquet Fuel Catalyst makes a positive environmental contribution to a cleaner atmosphere".
D Lock & Associates t/a Broquet said the product was a metal catalyst in pellet form that when introduced to the fuel tank or fuel line of a petrol, diesel or oil fuelled engine reacted with the fuel to improve the efficiency of the combustion process. They provided documentation which included details of tests, press releases, customer testimonials and magazine articles. They said customer feedback was perhaps the most important because most of their sales came from referrals by satisfied customers.
1. They said, by improving combustion efficiency, fuel consumption would be reduced and therefore all emissions would be reduced. They believed that was confirmed by the test results provided.
2. They said it could be seen from the tests that emissions of total hydrocarbon (THC) and CO were reduced considerably, in line with the quoted figures. They said emissions would always vary between individual engines as the combustion zones and components of all engines would vary in condition, but that based on the tests they felt they could claim reductions of between 30% and 50%, and improved MPG.
3. They said that the reduction in exhaust emissions resulting from the installation of the product would lead to a positive environmental contribution to a cleaner atmosphere. They said as fuel consumption was also reduced, the CO2 'footprint' of that engine was reduced.
1, 2 & 3. Upheld
The ASA considered that the claims were objective claims that required robust substantiation based on independent testing, and considered that press releases, customer testimonials and magazine articles were therefore not sufficient to demonstrate that the claims had been substantiated.
We considered that, in order to satisfy the claims, we would need to see evidence that the results of the tests provided would be applicable to all or most vehicles. In addition, the tests and any claims based on them should follow, or be of an equivalent standard to, those required by the EU for vehicle emissions.
We assessed the tests provided by Broquet in support of the claims. We noted that a number of the tests contained little or no explanation of methodology, and most of the tests had been carried out on only one or two cars or engines. We had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that the tests had been carried out in line with standard emissions testing, and noted some aspects of tests which suggested they had not. We also noted several other issues with the tests. For example, one test had been carried out in 1992, on a car which was manufactured in 1988 and had a 93,000 mileage. Both the car and the fuel used in the test were therefore unlikely to be representative of those currently available, and the test was unlikely to be applicable to all or most vehicles. The test cycle was also carried out using a 'hot start', which was not in line with standard emissions tests.
Given the issues we identified with the tests, we considered that the evidence was not sufficiently robust to demonstrate that the product was capable of improving fuel combustion, improving MPG, lowering emissions or making a positive contribution to the environment. We therefore concluded that the claims had not been substantiated and were misleading.
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 its current form. We told D Lock & Associates not to claim that their products could improve fuel combustion, lead to better MPG or lower emissions, or that they could make a positive environmental contribution to a cleaner atmosphere, unless they held adequate evidence to substantiate those claims.