A TV ad for the JML Direct VacPack Go, seen on 24 August 2021, featured a voice-over and accompanying shots which showed the VacPack Go pump being used to vacuum-pack a range of items. The pump was shown in use, with no visible cord or electrical outlet seen in the shots. A shot was then shown illustrating an offer which included several VacPack Go bags, a mini vacuum pump and USB power lead. In the next shot a person’s hand was shown placing the pump onto another bag with the lead plugged into the pump. In the next shot the pump was shown shrinking a bag down, but the lead was no longer visible. The voice-over then stated, “VacPack Go plugs into any USB plug or outlet making it perfect for camping holidays and travelling, caravans and motor homes and so much more.” A further shot showed the lead, connected to a laptop, which was plugged into the pump on top of a bag. In a final shot of the product in use the lead was seen plugged into the pump and it shrinking a bag.
IssueThe complainant, who understood that the pump needed to be plugged in order to use it, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
John Mills Ltd said that the product was clearly shown with the cable visible throughout the ad in all but one shot. They said that when the USB cable was plugged into the VacPack pump a green light became visible. The white USB cable could be seen in 17 shots throughout the ad, with eight of those shots also showing a visible green light. They stated that a voice-over was heard explaining the requirement of the cable to be plugged in, with visuals showing the cable being plugged in to a laptop, wall plug socket and USB outlet.
Clearcast said that there were 12 shots seen at various points in the ad which showed that a cable was required. They said that all but one demonstration of the product showed the cable running either directly from the product, next to the product or both.They stated that a few shots showed a hand operating the device and the cable was seen both when the hand was on the pump and when it was removed. In the scene where the product was described as being suitable for camping and travelling the cable could be seen packed in a luggage bag.
The ad was over three minutes long and included numerous shots of the product in use, with the cable plugged into the vacuum pump. In one section of shots in the middle of the ad, the cable was shown being plugged into a USB socket, wall plug socket and a laptop with a voice-over stating, “VacPack Go plugs into any USB plug or outlet making it perfect for camping holidays and travelling, caravans and motor homes and so much more.” A section which illustrated the items included in the price, through on-screen text and visuals, shown towards the beginning and again at the end of the ad, showed the vacuum pump, the USB cable and vacuum bags alongside a list of those items, which included “USB POWER LEAD”. We considered both of those sections indicated to consumers that the cable and a power source were required to operate the device.
We acknowledged that in several shots of the product in use the cable was displayed off to one side or against similarly coloured backgrounds, which we considered obscured the cable or made it difficult for viewers to see. However, we considered that in many of the shots the cable was visible.
Because the cable was visible in many of the shots of the product in use, and the ad included sections which highlighted the product plugged into a power source using a USB cable, which was included in the price, we considered the ad made it sufficiently clear that the pump must be plugged in to be used. We therefore concluded the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 319(2). and 3.2 3.2 Advertisements must not mislead consumers 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 consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary