A common way a superlative claim is by the use of the word “best”, for example “The best widget in the world” or “Product X is best for you”. Often, claims that a product or service is the “best” are unqualified. “Best” claims can be subjective or objective, depending on the claim and the context in which it appears.
Subjective “best” claims
If the rest of the advertisement does not clarify the criterion used for the claim, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) may regard the claim as a subjective one. For example, in 2005, the ASA rejected complaints about the claim “The best keeps getting better” and “… sell only the best in the business” on the grounds that they would be seen as the advertiser’s opinion (Alphason Designs Ltd, 6 April 2005). However, the use of an unqualified “best” claim does not automatically mean that the claim is subjective, and this will depend on the claim. See objective “best” claims below.
Objective “best” claims
The use of an unqualified “best” claim does not, however, mean marketers are on safe ground. An ad for Ticketmaster which stated “best available tickets” without a qualification was considered an objective claim. The ASA considered that consumers were likely to interpret the claim “the best available tickets” to mean that those tickets were better than any other available tickets for the event generally. Whilst they appreciated that what was considered “best” depended on the genre of the event, and to some extent, individual preferences, they considered consumers were likely to view “the best available tickets” in the context of the ad to mean that those tickets offered a tangible benefit compared to other tickets on sale and were therefore better than all the other tickets available for the event, because, for example, they were closer to the stage, or offered a better view of the stage. Because Ticketmaster did not have evidence to demonstrate that this was the case, the claim was considered misleading (Ticketmaster UK Ltd, 03 January 2018). See also Person(s) Unknown t/a Proacademichelp.co.uk, 11 September 2019).
If the criterion for the “best” claim is stated, and that criterion is objective, then the ASA will regard the claim as an objective one, which must be supported by evidence which substantiates that claim. For example, “Best-selling” (LittleLamb Ltd, 11 February 2015) ,“best value” (Utility Warehouse Ltd, 08 August 2018), and “best price” (The Carphone Warehouse Ltd, 03 August 2016).
Objective “best” claims are likely to be considered comparative claims. When making comparative claims, advertisers must comply with the rules on making comparative claims.
Claims based on customer surveys
Even if the criterion for the claim is subjective, the claim may still be considered objective if it is presented as the outcome of a customer survey. The claim “”Best Pizzeria Taste at home. 9 out of 10 agree” was considered misleading, because the ASA considered that the claim “Best Pizzeria Taste at home. 9 out of 10 agree” suggested that 90% of a group that was representative of the general public and who were in a position to compare Ristorante pizza with its competitor products agreed that Ristorante had the best taste, when that was not the case (Dr Oetker (UK) Ltd, 10 August 2018).
Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA.
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