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"As seen on TV"

04 April 2012
About two years ago, the ASA rejected a complaint about an ad for a vibrating footrest described as having been “... seen on TV”. Because the advertiser provided invoices for advertising space bought on various channels, the ASA considered the claim was unlikely to mislead.

But in March, the ASA revised its interpretation of the claim and raised the bar. It no longer considered it acceptable for marketers to base the claim merely on paid-for advertising. The case that precipitated this change related to a number of ads that claimed that the product had not only been seen on TV, but also in publications such as the national press and House Beautiful.

The ASA considered that using the product as an unbranded and unidentified prop in a homes make-over programme did not justify a claim that it had been ‘seen on TV’. Nor did it consider that the broadcast advertising of the product justified the claim. And in all but one publication, the ASA considered the advertiser had not justified the claims that the product had been seen in the Telegraph, Observer, Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail or the Sunday Times.

Why did the ASA reach this conclusion? It considered that because consumers were likely to infer from the claim that those publications or programmes had exercised some form of editorial evaluation, endorsement or independent review – when this was not the case – the claim could mislead.

So marketers wishing to make such claims about the coverage of their products should change them to “As advertised in...” or similar.

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