Last year the Advertising Standards Authority received almost 30,000 complaints and 73% of them dealt with misleading claims. This means that many brands and agencies still don’t understand the rules about substantiation and making up claims about brands. To clear things up the ASA have recently released guidance on providing substantiation.
When a complaint is made to the ASA an investigation will ensue which will require them to assess evidence relating to the claims for things such as being most popular, the cheapest, the most effective or the biggest etc. Here are the main points that the ASA advise marketers to bear in mind before making these kinds of claims;
- Hold the evidence before making the claim – Rule 3.7 of the CAP Code requires advertisers to do this and build their claim around the evidence, not the other way round.
- The evidence must be proportionate to the claim – this means that the bigger the claim, the more specific the evidence. So in a ruling against PC World’s claim that they were the ‘UK’s biggest PC retailer’ because they did not sell the most PCs, their defence that they had the most stores was rejected.
- Claims need to be clear to the consumer – marketers need to have evidence to substantiate the claim as it is likely to be understood by the average consumer. Claims that are clearly puffery and exaggerated or simply an opinion don’t need to be proven but where the claim is subjective e.g. ‘The best widget in the world’ – there needs to be proof.