A national press ad for the Jumpstar, a car accessory designed to help restart a car engine, was headed "Safe, simple and easy way to start your car in minutes!". Further text stated "JUMPSTAR JUMP START YOUR CAR Restart your engine - anytime, anywhere and from the comfort of inside your car". Text within the body copy stated "Takes only ten minutes to charge a car battery enough to start the engine". Further text beneath the sub-heading "HOW IT WORKS" stated "Connect the JumpStar power cable to your car's power outlet/cigarette lighter Flick the switch on the cable Wait for 10-15 minutes and start! You are ready to go!". A text box featured text which stated "INDEPENDENTLY TESTED BY INTERNATIONAL TESTING LABORATORY*". The asterisk linked to text which stated "*Complete test details are on our website - www.windeals.co.uk/jumpstar".
The complainant challenged whether the claims that the advertised product could start a car engine were misleading and could be substantiated.
Winning Deals submitted three test reports, which they believed substantiated the claims that the advertised product could start a car engine. They also sought advice from a mechanical engineer with specific automotive experience. The engineer commented that the device could always be connected to the cigarette lighter socket or accessory power point. They said that current would always flow from the Jumpstar to a car battery due to the difference in voltages. They further said the circuit tested by Intertek represented a typical car electrical circuit and proved that Jumpstar would provide adequate charge to a flat battery in 15 minutes. Furthermore, they believed it was not necessary to test the product on multiple vehicles.
Winning Deals also provided comments from a motor vehicle wholesaler. The wholesaler acknowledged that a battery that had been discharged for many weeks would require a longer charge with a mains charger. However, they believed the average motorist would find the Jumpstar provided sufficient charge into the vehicle's battery to allow them to start the engine within 15 minutes.
The ASA noted the ad stated that the advertised product could restart a car engine within a period of 10 to 15 minutes. We considered that in order to substantiate that claim, we would need to see evidence that demonstrated the product could restart an engine in under-15 minutes, in a representative sample of vehicles.
We noted the engineer's comments that the design of the product would ensure the car battery was charged by the Jumpstar. We also noted the wholesaler echoed that belief. However, we considered that, in isolation, those opinions were not sufficient to support the efficacy claims.
We understood the first test was performed by replicating a cigarette lighter circuit and testing the charge in the battery. We noted the engineer's comments that the circuit used in the test represented a typical car electrical circuit and demonstrated that the Jumpstar would provide adequate charge to a flat battery in 15 minutes. However, we noted the test did not assess the efficacy of the advertised product in a vehicle. We therefore considered that the test was not sufficient to demonstrate that the product could restart an engine in under-15 minutes.
We noted the second test was carried out on a single vehicle, produced in 2006, and that the third test was carried out by a motor vehicle wholesaler on five cars, the age of which ranged from 2005 to 2010. We noted two of the five cars included in the third test were charged for a period of 20 minutes. We therefore considered the tests on those two vehicles were not sufficient to demonstrate that the Jumpstar could restart a car engine in under-15 minutes. We considered a practical test of the product on only four vehicles was not sufficient to demonstrate that the product could restart an engine in under-15 minutes, in a representative sample of vehicles. We were also concerned that the third test did not include a detailed methodology, but a brief note which stated that the product was tested on flat batteries.
For those reasons, we concluded the ad 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), 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. We told Winning Deals to ensure they hold robust substantiation to support claims in future.