A recent decision from the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (NZASA) regarding a misleading television commercial (TVC) has highlighted how important it is to ensure that your advertisements accurately reflect any research you undertake. If you've done the testing which supports your product claim, don't trip at the last hurdle by presenting the research in a way that misleads.

Don't have time to read this email? Here are the key points to take away from this decision:

  1. If you make a claim that needs to be qualified, make sure that the qualification is drawn to the attention of the consumer. For example, if a disclaimer is required in a TVC, make sure:a. it appears on the same screen as the claim it is referencing; orb. the application of the disclaimer to the claim is made sufficiently clear (for example, with a clearly visible asterisk directing the consumer to the disclaimer).
  2. Consider whether the ordinary consumer/viewer may be misled by the way the claim is presented. Don't just consider whether the claim can be substantiated or not.

Dove Hair Care Television Advertisement

The NZASA recently ordered that a TVC advertising Dove Hair Care products be taken off the air because it was deemed to mislead consumers.

The TVC showed four women talking about their hair and statistics were quoted stating that "90% of Kiwi women recommend Dove Hair Care" (the Claim). In the following shot a disclaimer was displayed stating that the Claim was "Based on Beauty Review Dove Hair Survey of 223 NZ women May 2013".

Complaints were made that the Claim was false and misleading.In reply to the complaints, Unilever Australia explained that 90.9% of the women who participated in the survey agreed or strongly agreed that they would recommend Dove Hair Care products to a friend or family member after they had sampled the products.

Although the survey may have been conducted appropriately, the NZASA found that the TVC was misleading because:

  1. the disclaimer did not appear on the same page as the Claim it was referencing; and
  2. the Claim was not marked with an asterisk that would direct the viewer to the disclaimer on the next page; and
  3. accordingly, the likely consumer take out from the statement "90% of Kiwi women recommend Dove Hair Care" would be that 90% of all New Zealand woman would recommend Dove.

Thus, although there was an evidentiary basis to Unilever's Claim, their research was presented in a manner that was deemed to mislead the average consumer.