A website, www.londonplanters.co.uk, for the garden design company London Planters, ,seen on 8 April 2022. Text on a webpage titled “OUTDOOR PLANTERS” stated “We have dozens of ranges of planters to choose from: polystone, hardwood, granite, terracotta, fibre concrete, versailles, large planters, urban planters etc … We also specialize [sic] in bespoke metal planters. We can make steel planters of almost any size and color [sic]”. Under the text were numerous images of a series of different styles of garden planters.
IssueThe furniture design company Oxford Planters Ltd, who believed that one of the garden planters featured on the webpage was a product that they had designed and made, challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that it was a London Planters product.
London Planters said that they did not accept that the planters identified in the complaint were definitely manufactured by Oxford Planters. They said that the planters seen in the ad had been purchased by one of their customers, and they had carried out the planting of the trees within the planters, as seen in the image. They were, therefore, not sure of the provenance of the planters.
London Planters said that the planters identified in the complaint were a classic “Versailles” style, which they believed was a longstanding and extremely popular design of planter, and because of its popularity could be produced by any joinery company. To highlight that, London Planters provided several examples of similarly designed planters produced by other companies, and said they believed no single organisation could monopolise such a prevalent design.
London Planters also said that they did not accept that their advertising had claimed that they produced dozens of different ranges of planters, and that they believed there was no legal requirement to acknowledge the manufacturers of products they showed on their website.
The ASA noted that the page stated “We can make steel planters of almost any size and color [sic]”. We considered that was likely to give the clear impression to consumers that London Planters manufactured planters themselves. The page also stated that they specialised in bespoke metal planters and had dozens of ranges to choose from, and did not include a qualification to make clear where a product shown in the images had been manufactured by another company. In that context, we considered that consumers were likely to understand from the ad that the pictures of planters on that page were examples of ones they had manufactured.
However, we understood that was not the case in relation to the picture identified by the complainant. Oxford Planters maintained that those planters had been manufactured by them, and the advertiser had also confirmed that they had been bought by one of their customers, rather than having been made by them.
Because consumers were likely to understand the photographs on the page were of products London Planters manufactured, and because that was not the case, we therefore concluded that the ad was 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), 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) and 3.41 3.41 Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer about who manufactures the product. (Imitation and denegation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told London Planters to ensure that future marketing materials did not mislead about who manufactured products they sold.