Ad descriptionA brochure from The Bradford Exchange Ltd promoted a Prince William Royal Bridegroom Porcelain Doll. Alongside a picture of the doll, text stated "... Handcrafted to an unprecedented level - The world's finest artisans have created an authentic likeness of the handsome Prince on his wedding day. Crafted of fine bisque porcelain and meticulously handpainted [sic] for exquisite realism, this lifelike portrait is 17 inches tall, and full poseable [sic]. Striking uniform recreated in exquisite detail - Prince William's dashing red tunic features a golden collar bearing the facing shamrock emblems of the Irish Guards, shining gold buttons and epaulets, white piping and embellished cuffs. A royal blue sash, golden braid, a belt with a fringed tassel, medals and military insignia add drama and authenticity. Dark-coloured slacks with scarlet striping and a military cap of authentic design complete the ensemble ...".
The complainant challenged whether the ad accurately represented the product.
The Bradford Exchange Ltd, trading as The Ashton-Drake Galleries (Ashton-Drake Galleries) responded that they had sold a large number of the Prince William porcelain dolls and they had received no other complaints of this nature. They said they had reviewed the product against the brochure image and were satisfied with the likeness. With regard to the scale of the jacket's cuffs, Ashton-Drake Galleries stated that they thought these were an important feature of the doll and should therefore be prominent. They stressed that in their view when the doll's arms were placed by its side, as in the brochure image, it accurately reflected the product advertised.
The ASA asked for a sample of the doll. We noted that the ad featured numerous images of the doll, including one thumbnail image which was accompanied by the text "This doll is not a toy - it is a fine collectable intended for adult collectors ... Shown smaller than actual size". We considered it was therefore clear that this image, and several others in the brochure, were intended to represent the doll, and compared these with the sample we had received.
We understood that the complainant had been particularly disappointed with the scale of the cuffs on the jacket and noted that these did appear to be slightly larger than those displayed in the image. We also noted that, although the limbs were posable, it was nevertheless difficult to place the doll's arms close to its sides in the manner shown in the ad. In addition, we considered that the face of the doll differed from that advertised in being slimmer and painted in a more vibrant, and less realistic, way. The hairline also appeared to be more bluntly defined, and the doll's hair was in some parts much longer than the close-cropped style shown in the ad.
Because we considered that there were significant differences between the doll and the image in the ad, and because we understood that the two were intended to match, we concluded that the ad was not an accurate representation of the product and breached the Code.
The ad breached 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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Ashton-Drake Galleries to ensure that, where their ads included product images, those images were accurate reflections of the products themselves.