A teleshopping presentation for a ‘2-in-1 Car Air Purifier with USB Car Charger’, seen on 8 January 2021. During the course of the presentation, the presenter stated: “… it removes particles like dust from your car, like smoke in the air, but also of course bacteria, viruses, germs and all of those nasties”; “… but it’s great for those who have to give someone a lift every day and you’re worried about viruses and germs in the air. Plug it in and it’s going to be purifying the air in your car”; “…I think every car in the whole world should have an air purifier now, and every home should have an air purifier to get rid of viruses and bacteria in the air you are in”; “If you’re an Uber driver or a taxi driver you should definitely get one of these, definitely if you’re ever in the car for long periods, you should get one of these so that whenever you get in your car at least you know that your environment is purified. If you ever have to take a lift with someone you might want to have one in your pocket so if you ever have to get in someone’s car you can say ‘Would you mind so much if I just plug this in while I’m in the car with you to purify the air, this will protect both of us’, it’s worth it”; “If you’re having a lift with someone – the whole sort of virus thing – no one can help that, well unless they’re doing … as much as they can, but you could plug that in and of course that’s going to purify the air in the car”; “…if you’re taking kids to school every day, you know, the minute they get in the car at the end of school they’ve been mixing with all those other kids, to protect them and yourself, to protect yourself purify the air when you’re taking them in the car on the way home”; “… but now with viruses and stuff and confined spaces you should definitely get one for your car”; and “… think of elderly relatives … if you’ve got to pick up kids and stuff from school in the car, put this in, because when they’ve been in school they’ve been socialising with all their other friends, they could’ve picked up the virus or whatever it might be, at least have this on in the car to protect yourself as much as you can”.
The complainant challenged whether claims that the product could protect against COVID-19 by removing it from the air were misleading and could be substantiated.
ResponseShop TJC Ltd said that the content did not mention COVID-19 and did not claim that the product would remove COVID-19 particles from the air, as the product had not been specifically tested for that. They said that to build an understanding of the product before broadcast, the production team compiled information about it from other websites, and found information as described in the presentation. They provided the articles which provided the basis of that information. Shop TJC said they would be reviewing and amending that process.
The presentation was seen in the context of a nationwide lockdown to address a rising number of COVID-19 infections. Therefore, although the ad did not mention COVID-19 explicitly, in that context we considered the ad’s references to an air purifier which could protect against a “virus” would be understood as references to COVID-19. We considered consumers would understand from the ad that the product was effective at removing COVID-19 particles from the air, and that it could therefore protect users from infection.
The articles provided by Shop TJC related to the effect that air purifiers in general had on COVID-19 and did not relate to testing on the effect of the specific product presented. Therefore, we had not been provided with evidence to support the presentation’s claims that the air purifier product was effective at removing COVID-19 particles from the air.
For those reasons we concluded the presentation was misleading and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code Rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration).
The presentation must not be broadcast again in the form complained about. We told Shop TJC Ltd not to state or imply that the air purifier was effective at removing COVID-19 particles from the air and protecting users from infection, without adequate evidence.