Both the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) regard “No. 1” claims as being equivalent to a “best-selling” or “leading” claim, unless the context of the ad clearly indicates another meaning.
Can a “No.1” claim be subjective?
Whilst there may be situations in which the ASA would interpret a “No.1” claim as being the subjective opinion of the advertiser, in practice, such claims will almost always be regarded as objective.
In 2013 the ASA held that evidence relating to awards won by a letting agent, along with information relating to their branches, staff, vehicles, internet data and lettings boards did not substantiate their claim to be “Derby’s No.1 Award Winning Agent” which was considered an objective claim (IMS Lettings Ltd, 17 April 2013).
What is required when making a “No.1” objective claim?
As it is in most cases, when a “No.1” claim denotes that a product or service is the best-selling on the market, it is therefore considered an objective claim, so marketers should take care to ensure that they hold sufficient evidence to prove that claim. A “No.1” claim is, by its nature, likely to be seen as a comparison against all competitors on the market, unless specific competitors are named. See Comparisons: Verifiability and Comparisons: General
An ad for a hair clinic which claimed they were “officially voted Europe’s number one hair-loss, hair transplant clinic” was ruled against because they were unable to verify that they had been compared against all relevant hair loss and hair transplant clinics in Europe (The Hair Loss Clinics (NW) Limited, 20 December 2017).
Is sales data always required?
Whilst in the majority of cases a “No. 1” claim will be a best-selling claim that needs to be supported by sales data, in some circumstances, advertisers may be able to substantiate a “No.1” claim without holding evidence relating to their competitors’ sales.
The ASA accepted evidence relating to the data collated by an independent third party over a six-month period which compared web traffic with their competitors. The results showed that the number of unique visitors was more than their four closest competitors combined and more than double the number of total visits than their closest competitor. The ASA considered that, while visitor numbers alone was generally not a guaranteed indication of market share, because the difference in web traffic was so great, in these particular circumstances, it was reasonable to infer that they were the leading providing and had substantiated the claim (Medichecks.com Ltd, 14 February 2018)
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. CAP’s Advice Online entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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