A national press ad, for a deodorant, featured a close-up image of a shirt and tie on the left-hand side. Inside the collar of the shirt were two boxes with the appearance of clothing labels in which text stated "SHIRT PROTECT" and "WITH TECHNOLOGY TO HELP PROTECT AGAINST THE APPEARANCE OF SWEAT PATCHES WHITE MARKS YELLOW MARKS CARDBOARD EFFECT". Text towards the bottom of the image stated "NEW SHIRT PROTECT 48HR ANTI-PERSPIRANT PROTECTS AGAINST ALL TYPES OF MARKS". The right-hand side of the ad was headed "48H ANTI-PERSPIRANT HELPS PROTECT AGAINST ALL TYPES OF MARKS" and featured a pack shot of the product, on which text included "ANTI-MARKS 100% ALL TYPES OF MARKS".
The complainant, who believed the claims "ANTI-MARKS 100% ALL TYPES OF MARKS" and "HELPS PROTECT AGAINST ALL TYPES OF MARKS" were contradictory, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
L'Oréal (UK) Ltd t/a L'Oréal Paris Men Expert (L'Oréal) said the product helped protect the user's shirt against the appearance of embarrassing marks including sweat patches, yellow stains, white residue and the 'cardboard effect' (stiffening of fabric). They said the product had been adapted to address all (or 100%) of those four types of marks, but they did not claim to provide 100% efficacy against all types of marks caused by antiperspirants. The ad stated the product helped to protect against all (or 100%) of the types of known marks, as identified in the ad.
L'Oréal considered the claims were not contradictory and should be read in context with the rest of the ad. They considered that readers' attention would be drawn first to the wording at the top of the ad: "SHIRT PROTECT" and "48H ANTI-PERSPIRANT HELPS PROTECT AGAINST ALL TYPES OF MARKS"; the information in the second 'clothing label' listed the four types of marks. They considered those elements of the ad communicated to readers that the product helped protect against the appearance of all marks, rather than that it completely protected against all types of marks. They considered there were no further claims in the ad. The pack shot was to enable consumers to identify the product at the point of sale, and the text at the bottom left served as a reminder of the product name.
L'Oréal said, even if a consumer was to attribute undue importance to the pack shot, the information displayed on the product was in line with the information provided in the rest of the ad. They highlighted that the wording "100% ALL TYPES OF MARKS" was in grey and that the list of the four types of marks was in black writing with a grey background, whereas the other text was in green or white. They considered the colours of the text therefore linked the '100%' claim to the wording "ALL TYPES OF MARKS" and then to the four types of marks. They believed consumers would not find the ad contradictory or misleading.
The ASA noted that the claims at the top of the ad stated "HELPS PROTECT AGAINST ALL TYPES OF MARKS" and "... TO HELP PROTECT AGAINST THE APPEARANCE OF ..." and listed four types of marks. We considered those claims would be interpreted by consumers to mean that the product was designed to help protect against all the types of marks identified in the ad. We noted, however, that the text at the bottom left of the ad stated "PROTECTS AGAINST ALL TYPES OF MARKS", and the text which was visible in the pack shot stated "ANTI-MARKS 100% ALL TYPES OF MARKS" followed by smaller text which listed the four types of marks. We considered that consumers would understand those claims to be absolute claims that the product provided 100% protection against the four types of marks identified in the ad. We considered the claims in the ad about the effectiveness of the product were therefore contradictory, and we concluded that as a result, the ad was likely to mislead consumers.
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 in its current form.