A TV ad for Verisure, seen during June and July 2021, showed four people around a dining table. The ad showed a conversation between two characters: “I see you’ve got an alarm”, “Yeah we chose Verisure”, “How is it?”, “Very reassuring. There are so many burglaries during the holidays” and “So true. We should get one too before we go away”. At the end of the ad a voice-over stated, “Verisure alarms and cameras. Install your alarm now and get a free video doorbell. Call now or start your quote at verisure.co.uk”.
Eighteen complainants challenged whether the claim “There are so many burglaries during the holidays” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Verisure Services (UK) Ltd said that the ad’s reference to “holidays” was intended as a reference to any months that contained statutory or general holiday periods, namely: April, May, July, August and December.
Verisure provided two studies to support the claim, which they believed showed that those periods were times of the year when respondents had experienced many burglaries. In one study, they said 49.3% of respondents who had been burgled, were burgled during those holiday periods. They said the other study showed that the months with the highest rates of burglary tended either to have a statutory bank holiday in it or were considered summer holiday months.
Verisure referred to information provided on the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary websites. Verisure also provided a newspaper article which referred to Humberside Police warning of an increase in burglaries in summer 2021 as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Verisure believed that the ad’s reference to “so many” burglaries referred to an indefinite large number. They said that when combined with their intention to run the ad around all statutory holidays, they believed the studies indicated a large number of burglaries occurred in months which had the most holidays.
Clearcast believed that because the claim “There are so many burglaries during the holidays” reflected the concerns and advice given by multiple police constabularies and because Verisure provided data that they said demonstrated a correlation between holiday periods and burglaries, the claim was supported.
The claim “There are so many burglaries during the holidays” was followed by a different character who said “We should get one too before we go away”. The ad was broadcast in June and early July, ahead of the summer holiday period. In that context the ASA considered the claim “There are so many burglaries during the holidays” would be interpreted as an indication that the number of burglaries increased during the summer holiday period. We considered that would likely influence consumers’ decision on whether or not to install an alarm before that time.
We assessed the evidence provided. One of the studies consisted of a survey of 1,006 UK adults in November 2017. Of those surveyed, 503 participants, who had been burgled at their home, were asked: “Were you burgled at any of these times of the year?”. The study showed that almost 20% of respondents indicated that they were burgled during the summer holidays. The other study consisted of interviews which took place during May 2019, with 506 participants who had been burgled at home. The study showed that 10% of participants said that they were burgled during July and 9% said they had been burgled during August. We considered both studies included a relatively low number of participants and there was no indication as to whether there was a significant increase in the number of burglaries occurring during the summer holidays, or during July and August, relative to other times in the year. It was not clear from either study whether the results were representative of the UK as a whole.
Advice from the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police explained that burglars were aware of the times when someone was expected to be away from their house such as during the holidays. However, we considered that evidence did not show that the burglaries tended to increase during the summer holiday period.
We acknowledged that the news story from 2018 by Hertfordshire Constabulary stated that burglaries often increased during warm weather, as it would result in open doors and windows, and unlocked gates. The story also stated that there was often an increase in burglaries during the summer holidays while people were away and left homes empty. However, we also noted that the article indicated that burglaries had remained at around the same level between April and July 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. The newspaper article, published in July 2021, referred to concerns that Humberside Police had about an increase in burglaries following a lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, because properties would be left empty, and windows and doors would be left open. However, we consider the article raised concerns about burglaries in future, rather than referring to trends in burglaries in the past.
Although we acknowledged the evidence included information from the police which raised concerns about burglaries in the summer holiday period, we considered the body of evidence was not adequate to demonstrate that the number of burglaries increased during that time. Therefore In the absence of adequate evidence, we concluded that the claim “There are so many burglaries during the holidays” had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 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).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Verisure Services (UK) Ltd not to state or imply that burglaries increased during the summer holiday period without adequate evidence.