A website for Equicast UK, www.equicast.co.uk, a supplier of products designed to relieve problems in horse hooves seen 18 April 2017, promoted a product called “Equicast”. Text on the page stated “Equicast can be used as a “spare tyre” (that the owner applies) until a farrier can replace the shoe”. Further down the page a sub-heading stated “Three Ways to Apply Equicast”. Below the sub-heading were three images of a person applying the product to a horse hoof. Another heading on the page stated “Conventional shoeing methods”. Text underneath the heading stated “Equicast is a product that can be applied by a veterinarian, blacksmith, owner or trainer”.
The complainant, who understood that the product could only be applied by registered farriers, challenged whether the ad was misleading by omitting that information.
Equicast UK did not respond to the ASA enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Equicast UK’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, and ruled that they had breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We noted that the ad stated “Equicast can be used as a “spare tyre” (that the owner applies) until a farrier can replace the shoe” and “Equicast is a product that can be applied by a veterinarian, blacksmith, owner or trainer”. We also noted that the ad included images of how the product should be applied. We considered that consumers were likely to understand from the ad that Equicast could be bought and applied by persons other than farriers.
We understood that in accordance with the Farriers (Registration Act) 1975, it was illegal for people other than registered farriers to carry out any farriery work. We noted that the Act defined farriery work as "any work in connection with the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse for the immediate reception of a shoe thereon …". We noted from the Farrier Registration Council's website that they considered the application of bandage-like material known as "hoof wraps", to amount to farriery. Based on that information, we considered that the application of Equicast onto a horse hoof would be considered as farriery.
We considered that it was material information for consumers to be aware that it was illegal for people other than registered farriers to apply Equicast. Because that information was omitted from the ad, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again its current form. We told Equicast UK to make clear in future that it was illegal for people other than registered farriers to apply Equicast. We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.