A teleshopping ad on Price Drop TV for an in-car power inverter. On-screen text stated "Sakura 12V Power Inverter - Converts Your 12V In-Car Power Source To A 240V Household Socket". The presenter stated, "This plugs in to your 12v power outlet, your [in-car] cigarette lighter ... Anything that uses 240 volts at home you can plug it in and use it in the car." During the presentation the presenter listed various items that could be charged or used from the product, including a portable DVD player, laptop, digital camera, hair dryer, curling tongs, TV and fridge.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading, irresponsible and potentially harmful, because they believed the device should not be used with items that required more than 80 watts and that doing so could result in fire.
sit-up Ltd t/a Price Drop TV (sit-up) said that although the presenter did not mention that the product should only be used with devices that did not exceed 80 W, the camera showed an extended close-up of the product packaging that highlighted the 80 W restriction. They said that if the inverter was used with a device that exceeded 80 W it would not result in fire as it had a built-in 13amp fuse and any surge in power would result in the device not working as the fuse would have blown. The advertiser provided web-links to products that required 80 W or less to work, some of which were mentioned during the ad. They believed the ad would not cause harm and was not socially irresponsible.
The ASA noted the camera close-up of the product packaging which said "Suitable for any electrical appliance up to 80w". However, the close-up appeared after the phone lines were open for orders and not when the presenter described the various devices that could be powered by the inverter. We acknowledged the links supplied by the advertiser which included products from Hong Kong and the Philippines. The link to fridges featured products specifically for in-car use although that was not mentioned by the presenter. We also noted the presenter said that TVs could be powered from the inverter and during the presentation he held up a large imaginary TV.
We took advice from an electrical expert who said that because items such as hair dryers and curling tongs were generally high powered appliances, that would exceed 80 W by quite a margin. In terms of the fire hazard, they said this would depend on the protection used by the inverter but this could only be determined through individual tests. They also said it was unlikely the 13 amp fuse would provide overload protection as they were designed to supply appliances up to 2,990 W without fusing.
We were concerned that the ad gave the impression that any device could be powered through the inverter and the presenter did not include any safety warnings or limit devices to those with 80 W or below or products specifically designed to be powered by a car cigarette lighter. Because of this, we concluded the ad was misleading and irresponsible.
The ad breached BACP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility), 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), 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration) and 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not be broadcast in its current form. We told the advertiser to ensure they made clear the type of products that could be used with the inverter.