A radio ad for Smart Energy GB heard on 15 December 2017 claimed, “To be honest when I heard about this I thought you are having a laugh aren’t ya [sic]. It is called the smart meter power of 10p challenge, where basically I have to feed as many body builders as possible using just 10p of energy. No pressure then guys. But after a manic cooking frenzy I still managed to prepare an incredible 14 meals … See how far 10p could go in your home. Contact your energy supplier about getting your smart meter at no extra cost.”
The complainant who understood that Smart Meters only monitored energy usage, challenged whether the ad implied that by having a smart meter installed consumers would be able save money on their energy bills.
Smart Metering Communications Body Ltd t/a Smart Energy GB said that the premise of the ad was to demonstrate to consumers how a smart meter could help them monitor what they could do with 10p’s worth of energy, which was reinforced by the line “see how far 10p could go in your home”. They said they did not consider that the advert implied that having a smart meter would save consumers money on their energy bills.
They explained that in the challenge, an electric power blender and a gas hob had been used to cook the food. They provided us with the calculation they used to establish when the 10p had been used and it was based on the average standard variable tariff offered by the largest energy supplier. They explained they chose this tariff as it was a standard offer which had no end date and was available to both prepaid and credit customers. They also said that the ad had run from 13 November to 24 December in 2017 and that they had no plans for it to run in the future.
Radiocentre said that they endorsed the advertiser’s response, and that consumers would have inferred from the claims “see how far 10p can go/monitor how far your energy goes”, that smart meters enabled them to monitor their energy usage, rather than a specific money saving claim.
We considered that consumers would understand from the ad that the challenge was a fantastical scenario with a popular TV Chef in a pressurised situation trying to achieve the specific goal of feeding as many body builders as possible, using only 10p of energy. We considered that the tag line in the ad “See how far 10p could go in your home” was a reference to the fact the smart meter would be able to show you how much energy you were currently using and was not a savings claim linked to a specific action. We noted that the ad did not contain any specific reference to the challenge being replicable in a domestic setting and that consumers would understand that it was an illustrative example of how monitoring your energy usage could make them aware of how much energy was used for specific tasks. We therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 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. 2). (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), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.