A national press ad and a circular for Fischer Future Heat, a heating company:
a. The national press ad, seen on 29 April 2018, showed an image of an electric heating radiator wired into a living room wall. Large text at the top of the page stated "Replace your night storage heaters with dynamic Fischer elektrostore radiators". Text alongside the image stated "Economy 7 compatible 19". "19" linked to small text at the bottom of the page which stated "Radiators use both night and day rate to control temperature".
b. The circular, received on 22 June 2018, contained identical text and images.
Two complainants, both of whom understood that the radiators were unable to take advantage of Economy 7 electricity rates, and one of whom noted that the ad contained the term "elektrostore radiators", challenged whether the claim "Economy 7 compatible" was misleading.
Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd said they believed the footnote text explained to consumers that the heaters consumed electricity both during the day and during the night. They said the heaters were able to take advantage of cheaper night rates – if the heater was on and consuming power during the hours an electricity supplier charged at night rate, those units would be charged at that rate. They believed it was important that they stated that their heaters were Economy 7 compatible so that consumers could be aware that they could be used with both standard and Economy 7 meters. They said "elektrostore" was a trademarked term and believed they were entitled to use it.
The ASA considered consumers were likely to understand "Economy 7 compatible” to mean that the heaters could take advantage of cheaper, off-peak electricity rates to store heat at night to release during the day. We considered that the large text "Replace your night storage heaters with dynamic Fischer elektrostore radiators" added to that impression. Because we understood from Fischer Future that, while the heaters could take advantage of cheaper, off-peak electricity rates if they were used at night, they could not use it to store heat to release during the day, we concluded that the claim "Economy 7 compatible" was misleading.
The ads 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 ads must not appear again in the forms complained of. We told Fischer Future Heat UK Ltd to ensure their ads did not mislead by, for example, claiming or suggesting that their heaters could take advantage of cheaper, off-peak electricity rates to store heat to release during the day.