A two-page brochure for audio equipment was titled "Measuring our SuperKords" which included claims that their cables had been independently tested and shown to reduce "RF Noise". The claims included "We promised in a previous issue of Connected to publish comparative graphs for the performance of our SuperKord-SD II mains cables when pitted against a standard mains cable and our PowerKords". Under the heading "What we did" text included "We employed [test company] to test the ability of our cables to rejected conducted electromagnetic interference, and their tests were carried out to industry standards". Text under the heading "What we tested" included "The cables that we tested were a standard, non-woven 3-core mains cable, a Signature PowerKord and the SuperKord Signature-SD II. [Test company] tested the ability of all three cable types to filter conducted Electromagnetic Interference in both Differential Mode (RF noise which appears between phase and neutral wires of a mains cable), and in Common Mode (RF noise which is identical on both live and neutral wires with respect to ground)". Text under the heading "So what do the plots show us?" included "The plots show how the cables differently reject conducted interference between 0 and 1000Mhz (1GHYz) in both Differential Mode and Common mode. It's clear that, under test, both the Signature PowerKord and the SuperKord Signature-SD II are able to filter Differential Mode and Common Mode noise to a greater degree than the standard 3-core IEC mains lead".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because they did not believe the referenced research could support the noise reduction claims.
Russ Andrews Accessories Ltd said that the brochure was being used to provide information about the different levels of conducted RF/EMI rejection obtained with two ranges of mains cables. They said that following the development of a new range of cables they wanted to undertake some measurements to help them to understand how they were susceptible to conducted and radiated electromagnetic interference. They said that based on the advice of an ASA expert in a previous investigation, they had used an independent UKAS-accredited EMC test facility and that non-woven mains cables (referred to as a 'kettle lead') were tested against their Superkord products.
They said the testing referred to in the reports and created by the independent test company was carried out using standard test methodologies for radio disturbance and immunity measuring. They supplied the raw data from those tests which they believed substantiated the efficacy claims in the ad.
They explained that the purpose of the brochure ad was to present some of the measurements they had made as part of the research and development of a range of their cables, in much the same way as a speaker company might present frequency response graphs made of a pair of loudspeakers. They said that when writing the paper, they were aware that laboratory measurements may not be representative of performance in real life circumstances and that they took great care not to claim this. They said they also realised that simply presenting the laboratory results may imply a level of performance of the cables in a domestic situation and to counter this they included a paragraph in the ad to state that the tests reflected the results carried out under lab conditions and whilst they were confident that the same level of rejection occurred in domestic environments (such as when being plugged into a Hi-Fi or home cinema system) they were not making such a claim. They believed the ad expressed their subjective opinion about the sound quality improvements and made it clear that the comments about the sound quality were their opinion. They believed they had taken every reasonable step to ensure the ad was likely to be acceptable under the CAP Code and stated that they had obtained Copy Advice from CAP which advised that the ad was likely to be acceptable under the Code because it made clear the cables may not perform in the same way in the home as in the laboratory. They provided evidence that this Copy Advice had been given and stated that it was upon this advice that the ad was published in its current form.
We noted the evidence supplied by Russ Andrews Accessories represented the results of tests carried out under lab conditions to industry standards and considered that the results appeared to show a reduction in decibels compared to a normal mains cable (which was used as a control). However, we understood from Russ Andrews Accessories that these test results were not necessarily indicative of perceptible noise reduction in consumer relevant conditions and noted the results did not indicate a difference in perceptible RF (radio frequency) interference (in Common or Differential Mode) when using the standard leads against which the Superkord and Powerkord products were being compared.
We noted the ad included the text "What don't the plots show us. The plots show how the cables perform under test in laboratory conditions. Whilst we could infer that the same level of rejection occurs in a domestic environment (i.e. when the cables are plugged into a Hi-Fi or Home Cinema System) we are not claiming that they do. Similarly, the graphs do not prove that the rejection measured in the lab has a perceptible (i.e. audible) effect when the cables are used in a Hi-Fi or Home Cinema System". Although the rest of the ad provided information (including graphs) about how the product worked to reduce RF noise and that such results were evidenced from independent lab testing, we considered that consumers would understand from the qualifying statement that the reference to the lab results did not necessarily mean that the same results would be achieved by consumers in the home. We considered that the evidence supplied was therefore sufficient to support the claims in the ad about the extent to which RF interference was achieved when tested under lab conditions. We concluded that the ad was 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. 3.3 (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 required.