A product page on the Amazon website from The-Sleeping-Giant for an electric shock dog collar stated "ANTI BARK STOP BARKING ELECTRIC SHOCK DOG TRAINING COLLAR ... "
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading and incited consumers to break the law, because it did not make clear that the product was illegal to use in Wales.
The-Sleeping-Giant explained that the ad was not targeted at consumers living in Wales, made no reference to Wales and did not suggest that it was legal to use the product in Wales. They said Amazon was an international sales platform and they sold their products via Amazon to customers worldwide. They said it was not viable to expect ads on Amazon to carry a list of up-to-date countries where products could and could not be used. They believed it was for the consumer to ascertain whether or not a product was legal to purchase or use within their own country. They said that although The Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010 made the use of electric shock collars illegal in Wales, they did not prevent the manufacture, sale or purchase of these collars in Wales.
The ASA noted that the product was an electric shock dog training collar which was intended to stop dogs from barking. We understood that The Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010 made it a criminal offence to use an electronic collar on dogs in Wales. We noted that the ad was not specifically targeted at customers in Wales, although customers in Wales could purchase the product via Amazon. We understood that The-Sleeping-Giant believed it was the customer's responsibility to ensure that the product could be used legally in their own country but we disagreed. We considered that customers in Wales may not have known that the product was illegal for them to use in Wales and that the ad should have made this clear. Because it did not, we considered that it was misleading and could unwittingly incite customers in Wales to break the law.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketers have primary responsibility for ensuring that their marketing communications are legal. Marketing communications should comply with the law and should not incite anyone to break it.
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The-Sleeping-Giant to ensure future ads for the product prominently stated that it was illegal to use the product in Wales.