Two video ads for Volvo Lifepaint, a spray paint designed to increase cyclist visibility in the dark, seen in December 2016:
a. A Youtube ad appearing on the Volvo Car and Volvo Life Paint Youtube channels, showed several cyclists in an urban environment applying Volvo Lifepaint to their bicycles, clothes and safety gear before cycling in the dark with the Life Paint sprayed areas glowing.
b. An online ad on Volvo’s website www.volvocars.com, contained the same video at the top of the page. Text close to the bottom of the web page, below the video and a series of images, requiring scrolling down, stated "In the making of this film we used both reflective paint products available from Albedo 100".
The complainant, who did not believe that the product could produce the effects shown, challenged whether the ads were misleading.
Volvo Car UK Ltd said that LifePaint was designed primarily for textiles. The manufacturer, Albedo100 had also produced an oil-based spray designed for metal surfaces, and it was this spray which had been used on the bicycle frames in the video. However, Volvo Car said that LifePaint could also be used to produce the same effect shown in the video on bicycle frames, although the effect would not last for long and LifePaint would need to be reapplied sooner, or coated, so Albedo100’s oil-based spray was more suitable.
Volvo provided a video which showed the LifePaint being used on a bicycle frame before being illuminated by headlights.
Volvo said that they would alter the disclaimer on ad (b) to make it clearer that the paint was primarily designed for dry textiles and fibrous materials and add the altered disclaimer to ad (a).
The ASA considered that the average consumer would expect LifePaint to be able to produce a similar effect to that seen in the ads. The video gave equal prominence to the frames of the bicycles as it did to the clothing of the riders, and showed the product being sprayed on a bike frame, so we considered consumers would expect the product to work on both surface types.
Although we acknowledged that the video provided by Volvo showed that the product did initially produce a reflective effect when applied to metallic surfaces, we also understood that the effects shown on the bicycle frames in the ad were achieved with a different product. We also noted that LifePaint was marketed as working best on textile materials, and that Volvo had said that another product was more suitable on metallic surfaces, where LifePaint was less effective. Although ad (b) contained a disclaimer that the ad used two reflective paint products, it did not make clear that LifePaint was only used on the textile surfaces, and in the context of an ad for LifePaint we considered that to be material information. We also did not consider that the disclaimer was sufficiently prominent because it was presented separately from the video, further down the page. However, even if the disclaimer had been presented with the video, we considered that the video itself was still misleading because we considered the prominence it gave to bicycle frames being sprayed with and covered in reflective paint suggested that the product would work equally on both surface types.
We therefore concluded that the ad exaggerated the performance of LifePaint and was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
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), 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 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration)
The ad must not appear again in its current form.