Homemark advertises this product claiming that "this product can be plugged into any electrical outlet, and “… this state of the art pest repeller uses the wiring of your home to create a massive force field that drives the pests out …”. Some of the pests that the product claims to be effective against are spiders, ants, roaches, mice and silverfish.
Considering Homemark's previous false advertising for some of their other products, can one believe that this product has any efficacy?
Here is a ruling against Homemark's one claim.
Homemark Pest Magic / M Blanckenberg / 16438
|Ruling of the : ASA Directorate|
|In the matter between:|
|Dr M Blanckenberg||Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)|
|Homemark (Pty) Ltd||Respondent|
11 Feb 2011
Dr Blanckenberg lodged a consumer complaint against Homemark’s television commercial for its Pest Magic product.
The commercial explains how this product can be plugged into any electrical outlet, and “… this state of the art pest repeller uses the wiring of your home to create a massive force field that drives the pests out …”. Some of the pests that the product claims to be effective against are spiders, ants, roaches, mice and silverfish.
The complainant, an electronic engineer, submitted that this commercial is misleading, as it is impossible to create a so-called force field using the wiring of your home.
RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were taking into consideration:
• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation
• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims
The respondent submitted arguments on the merits of the matter, and also included a report from Mr Uwe Nusser, a qualified technologist on precision engineering who claims to have researched the product. the respondent added that Mr Nusser also raised concerns about the term “force field” as used in the commercial, and that it would accordingly take steps to address this claim.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.
It is noted that the complainant only raised one objection to the commercial, being the claim that the product “… uses the wiring of your home to create a massive force field that drives the pests out …”, which the complainant argued is nonsense.
The Directorate will therefore limit its investigation to this claim only.
In response to the complaint, the respondent submitted a report from Mr Uwe Nusser, whom it believes qualifies as an independent and credible expert in this particular field. It also, however, undertook to amend the commercial to address the reference to a “force field”, due to the fact that even Mr Nusser raised concerns over this term.
The ASA has a long standing principle which holds that where an advertiser provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking is accepted without considering the merits of the matter.
Given that the respondent has undertaken to remove the reference to a “force field”, the Directorate is satisfied that this will adequately address the concern raised by the complainant.
It is also specifically noted that the Directorate therefore does not have to consider whether or not Mr Nusser qualifies as an independent and credible expert in this particular field as required by Clause 4.1 of Section II. Consequently, there is no need to consider the efficacy claims other than the reference to a “force field” at this time.
The Directorate therefore accepts the respondent’s undertaking on condition that the commercial is amended with immediate effect, and does not make reference to using the wiring of one’s house to create a force field again in future.
For the benefit of the respondent, the Directorate also notes that in Homemark Pest Magic / CP Kotze / 10695 (4 April 2008), the respondent was unable to substantiate the claim “… 100% effective” by virtue of the fact that it had no evidence to show that the product is effective against roaches (which was the subject of that complaint). This ruling therefore impacts on the respondent’s current advertising and the respondent would do well to keep it in mind.