A TV ad for the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Fan, seen in April 2019, featured a voice-over that stated, "Pollutants can build up indoors. Gases, allergens and particles. So Dyson's purifying fan heaters use sensors to detect them, capturing them inside sealed HEPA and carbon filters to clean the air. Then project 290 litres per second to cool you or heat your whole room with purified air".
The ad showed a family in an open-plan flat, with a fan set at a short distance away from the end of the kitchen counter. The fan was shown from several different angles, straight on, from the side and from above. There was no cord visible in these shots, and there was no electrical outlet visible in the wall behind the fan.
The fan was shown rotating and projecting air around the perimeter of the kitchen, living and dining area. The following shot showed the fan in a different location on a light-coloured floor with a thin grey line leading into its base. Parallel to the fan on the other side of the screen was the end of a grey sofa with a grey carpet in front of it.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that the fan was cordless.
Dyson Ltd said that the product was clearly shown in the ad as having a cord, which was distinguishable from both the floor and the rug depicted on the opposite of the image. They did not believe there was any reasonable prospect of the average consumer being misled into thinking the product was cordless.
They said that the product was the latest iteration of Dyson’s purifiers, which had been available on the UK market for around four years. Those products were in turn an evolution of Dyson’s fans, which had been sold in the UK for over a decade. None of those products had ever been cordless nor been advertised as being so. They were not aware that any major manufacturer marketed a cordless purifier in the UK. As such, if Dyson were to create a cordless purifier it was reasonable to assume that this would be one of the key features which they would advertise.
Clearcast said that the mains lead was visible in the end shot. They said that Dyson had invested heavily in cordless products, for example their vacuum range, with which the average viewer would be very familiar. So one could be confident that if the product was cordless in a sector not know for cordless products Dyson would advertise the fact. They said that there was no benefit in having a cordless fan given it could cover such a wide area and there was no need for movement, unlike with a vacuum cleaner. Similarly there was no benefit in having a cordless television, and they did not routinely establish cables running from televisions.
The ad included several scenes in which the fan was shown from different angles standing next to the end of a kitchen counter, in the manner in which it might be used in a real home. The ASA noted that there was no cord or electrical outlets visible in this part of the ad. We considered that if the fan had a cord that plugged into the mains electricity, viewers would expect to be able to see it in those shots.
We acknowledged that the final shot showed a cord leading from the base of the fan. However, it was very thin and coloured grey on a light background. Furthermore, the cord was the same colour, thickness and approximately the same length as the edge of the carpet which appeared opposite it on the screen. For those reasons, we considered that it could be easily missed and seen as part of the background by viewers. We concluded that, overall, the ad was likely to give consumers the misleading impression that the fan was cordless, and therefore that it breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising) and 3.10 (Qualification).
The ad must not be broadcast again in the form complained about. We told Dyson Ltd not to imply that their fans were cordless if that was not the case.