Whilst marketers should be careful to ensure they hold evidence to prove any claims that are capable of objective substantiation, neither the ASA or CAP expects to see evidence to support subjective claims which are unlikely to be taken literally by consumers, either because they are clearly just an expression of the marketer’s opinion, or because they can be regarded as mere “puffery”.
In 2012, the ASA held that an offer of “unlimited free texts forever” was likely to be interpreted by consumers as containing an element of advertising puffery and that they were unlikely to infer that free texts would be available literally forever (Everything Everywhere Ltd t/a T-Mobile, 24 October 2012).
However, marketers can run into problems if they make a claim that the ASA or CAP regards as objective, which cannot be substantiated. In 2002, the ASA upheld a complaint against the claim “Britain’s most informed, independent health expert” (Holford & Associates, 26 March 2003). The advertiser considered that the claim was merely an expression of opinion, but the ASA thought the claim would be viewed by consumers as an objective one. Similarly in 2012, the ASA held that the claim “best tasting chips, without the oil” would be viewed by consumers as an objective comparative taste claim against the other traditional methods of home-cooking chips, rather than as “puffery” as the advertiser had suggested (Philips Electronics UK Ltd, 1 August 2012).
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 AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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