Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A website for Trappex, www.trappex.co.uk, a manufacturer of central heating system filters, water treatment chemical products and scale prevention devices, seen on 21 January 2021, stated “Industry Leading Performance and Reliability”.
Eclipse Magnetics Ltd challenged whether the claim “Industry Leading Performance and Reliability” was:
1. misleading and could be substantiated; and
Response1. & 2. Trappex Ltd said that they carried out internal tests but did not disclose information on their methodology or which products they tested. They also said that they never publicly made comparisons against other manufacturers.
The ASA considered consumers would understand the claim “Industry Leading Performance and Reliability” to mean that the products provided by Trappex had superior performance and were more reliable than comparable products provided by their competitors. We considered that consumers interested in Trappex’s products would have sufficient knowledge of the market to be able to identify at least one of Trappex’s competitors. The claims were therefore objective comparative claims for which Trappex must hold objective documentary evidence and which must not mislead about either Trappex’s products or those of their competitors.
While Trappex had said they carried out tests to support their claims, they did not provide any evidence to substantiate their claims. In the absence of evidence, we concluded that the claim “Industry Leading Performance and Reliability” had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading.
On that point, 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), 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) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
The CAP Code required comparisons with identifiable competitors to be verifiable. That meant that an ad which featured a comparison with an identifiable competitor or competitors needed to include, or direct a consumer to, sufficient information to allow them to understand the comparison, and be able to check the claims were accurate.
The ad did not include any information to ensure the details of the comparison could be verified by consumers and competitors, nor did it direct them to where it could be obtained. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.35 3.35 They must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products, which may include price. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Trappex Ltd not to make claims about the performance and reliability of their products compared to those of identifiable competitors if they did not hold robust comparative documentary evidence, and to ensure such claims were verifiable.