UK Regulator Bans Misleading “Hot Air” Ads
The cost-of-living crisis is a concern for all consumers, with many carrying out research to understand ways that spending can be reduced. One major issue during the cold winter days is the cost of heating bills.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned four separate adverts which relate to electric plug-in mini heaters. All the ads suggested that mini heaters are a viable replacement to conventional heating via gas. The ads implied that the products would save consumers money while quickly and efficiently heating a room.
The Energy Saving Trust advised the ASA that a single small electric fan heater would be unlikely to be able to supply the amount of heat needed for a typical sized room. Multiple electric heaters would be required to provide comfort levels equivalent to a central heating system.
Although the ads which were investigated were placed by different advertisers, the ads were representing the same mini-heater product. None of the advertisers responded to the ASA.
Under the CAP Code, brands should take care to ensure they do not exaggerate the capability or performance of a product. Marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation.
It is clear that the ASA will not tolerate failure to comply with the CAP Code and will take steps to ban any adverts that are misleading to consumers.
The influx of recent rulings show that the ASA are on the look out to protect vulnerable consumers that are looking to save money and cut back, given the current economy.
Publishing unsubstantiated claims will also land advertisers in trouble with respect to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which are enforced by the Competition and Markets Authority and local trading standards. Penalties for breach ultimately include fines and imprisonment. Claims made about a product may also form a term of the consumer contract under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which has implications in terms of a consumer’s rights to damages, for example.
© Copyright 2023 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 33