Three video ads for a cabin retailer, Walton Web Ltd, shown on their website www.waltons.co.uk Facebook page and on YouTube:
a. The video on the website www.waltons.co.uk was shown on the “About us” page and featured text that stated “WALTONS EST. 1878”. The voice-over in the ad stated “A lot has happened in Britain and across the world since 1878, but one constant has been Waltons. The grand old company is in rude health today …”. During this part of the video, a timeline was shown starting at 1878 and ended with the text “Grand old company”.
b. The video shown on the Facebook page featured various voice-overs of actors who had purchased cabins from Walton Web Ltd. In the final scene of the ad, was a picture of a cabin with text that stated “EST. 1878 Discover your perfect space Search WALTONS.CO.UK today”.
c. The video shown on YouTube was identical to ad (b).
Dunster House Ltd, who understood that the company was incorporated in 2010, challenged whether the clams “WALTONS EST. 1878” and “EST. 1878” were misleading and could be substantiated.
Rosimian Ltd stated that the original name of the company was E. C. Walton & Co, which involved the manufacture of timber garden products, wholesale and retail sales and was incorporated as a limited company in 1943.
Rosimian stated that in February 2005, the shares in E. C. Walton & Co were sold by the Walton family to private equity and was renamed Walton Garden Buildings Ltd (WGB). They stated that their website www.waltons.co.uk was registered in June 1997 and used as a corporate site for the company until April 2007, when it was converted into an online retail website. In 2010, WGB changed name and became Mercia Garden Products Ltd (MGP) and at the same time, Walton Web Ltd was incorporated as an online retail business to continue to sell “Walton” branded timber garden products. Rosimian clarified that both companies were wholly owned by them, where Walton Web was effectively a customer of MGP, which manufactured timber garden furniture.
Rosimian explained that the established claim was based on the endurance of the “Walton’” brand, which originated from EC Walton & Co founded in 1878.
Rosimian provided a scanned copy of an original brochure that belonged to EC Walton & Co called “Catalogue of Bungalows”, which dated from the 1930s and stated that the company was established in 1878 and had been in business for over 50 years. They also provided a booklet called “WALTON’S BUILDINGS FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY …”, which provided historical information on E.C. Walton & Co. They referred to a press cutting in the booklet, which included an image of E.C. Walton and stated how he had started his business in 1878 as a manufacturer of bee hives. Rosimian further stated that although the company was first located at Muskham, the booklet as well as the “Catalogue of Bungalows” showed that it had been established on its present site since 1927.
Rosimian also referred to a third-party website, which provided historical information on industry and manufacturing in the UK. They stated that the website showed press ads for E. C. Walton & Co that were published between 1924 and 1965. They also referred to another archived ad for E. C. Walton & Co that appeared on their other website www.waltonsheds.co.uk, which was published on 6 July 1934.
The ASA’s position on “established since …” claims was that marketers must hold documentary evidence demonstrating a period of uninterrupted trading and provided that this was the case, they could continue to make such claims even where the trading name had changed or the business moved premises during that period.
The ASA understood that the claims “WALTONS EST. 1878” and “EST. 1878” were based on Walton Web inheriting the “Walton” brand from EC Walton & Co, founded in 1878.
We considered that the information submitted by Rosimian demonstrated that the date of 1878 had been part of the narrative of the “Walton” brand for a number of years. We acknowledged from the booklet Rosimian provided that E.C. Walton started his company in 1878 as a manufacturer of “Walton” branded bee hives in North Muskham, called “Walton’s Muskham Beehive Works” and later on started to manufacture “summer-houses”. By 1900, the company’s name had changed to E. C. Walton and Co and in 1927, moved premises to Sutton-on Trent, and in 1943, was incorporated as a limited company. We noted that the “Catalogue of Bungalows” was published in the 1930s, which marketed “Walton” branded timber bungalows and also stated that EC Walton & Co was established in 1878. Furthermore, we acknowledged that the archived press ads marketing “Walton” branded garages and summer houses were published between 1924 and 1965.
We acknowledged that in 2010, the company changed its name again from Walton Garden Buildings to Mercia Garden Products and still remained in the same location that it had occupied since 1927. Furthermore, Walton Web was incorporated as a limited company to sell “Walton” branded garden furniture as an online retailer while Mercia Garden Products continued to manufacture the company’s garden furniture.
We considered that although ownership of the “Walton” brand had changed on several occasions, Rosimian had provided sufficient information showing that it had been maintained and had an uninterrupted trading history since 1878. We therefore, concluded that the claims “WALTONS EST. 1878” and “EST. 1878” were not misleading.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (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.