A website for a specialist outdoor retailer, www.mountainwarehouse.com, seen in January 2017, advertised a “Henry Mens [sic] Down Padded Jacket” and stated “Laboratory tested to - 30C. Heat & physical activity, exposure time & perspiration will affect performance and comfort”.
The complainant, who purchased the jacket but said it did not protect them from the cold in mild weather, challenged whether the ad was misleading
Mountain Warehouse provided results of a test it had commissioned on the jacket’s performance to support its claim that the jacket had successfully been tested for use at -30C. They said the test was carried out against a recognised international standard – EN ISO 15731:2004 – and that the results estimated that based on the thermal resistance rating of the jacket and its ‘clo’ rating (a measurement of clothing insulation), a user would be able to withstand temperatures down to -31C while carrying out medium pace activity such as running or skiing, -12C during low pace activity such as walking and 0C if the user was stationary.
The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the claim made in the ad to mean that in test conditions the jacket had been able to maintain a proscribed degree of warmth in temperatures down to -30C, but that a number of factors would affect their experience of wearing the product in real world conditions. They would have their own personal understanding of what was a comfortable temperature and the amount or type of clothing they typically wore in different circumstances to maintain that temperature. The ad listed factors such as “physical activity, exposure time & perspiration”.
While the ad did not detail which type of activity would be necessary to provide protection at -30C or how long one could remain exposed, we considered that consumers would expect that the more active they were, the more likely it was that they would remain comfortable in temperatures of -30C, and the longer they could remain exposed to that temperature.
The jacket was tested in a laboratory setting in accordance with the ISO standard for “EN ISO 15831:2004 - Clothing – Physiological effects – Measurement of thermal insulation by means of a thermal manikin”. Equipment was used to measure temperature across a variety of scenarios and 34 different “measurement zones” and the test certificates demonstrated that the product had been successfully tested to
-31C. While we acknowledged the complainant's experience that the jacket had not insulated them from the cold in mild weather, because the jacket had been laboratory tested using an appropriate standard and because we considered that individual experiences of using the product would differ significantly based on a number of factors, some of which were referred to in the ad, we concluded the claim that the jacket was “Laboratory tested to -30C”, had been substantiated and was unlikely to mislead.
We investigated the ad under 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) and 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), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.