The temptation of a spectacular claim in the title of a marketing email is one that can be difficult to resist. Many of us have tapped our teeth with a pencil trying to come up with just the right idea then, on the way home (perhaps) you drive past or into a golf club and there on the hoarding outside you see a placard saying: ‘Golf Sale’.
Yes, you think, we’ll have some of that.
But beware. You might well incur the wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK or the National Advertising Division (NAD) in the United States. There have been two similar recent cases that might cause you to think again.
To take the foreign one first of all, which is indicative of how things would be viewed in this country, a vacuum cleaner brand suggested via multiple media that their products were variously: America's Most Recommended Vacuum, and America's Most Recommended Vacuum Brand.
Dyson took exception to these claims, saying that most recommended is comparative and this was to the detriment of their products. The defence was that the claim was based on reviews on retailers’ websites, the sample size being 10,000 self-reported consumer reviews, a significant number they felt.
The NAD found for Dyson, saying that the claims were comparative and the reliability of the reviews was questionable. There is an appeal in process.
For us it means that advertisers should not base their headlines and claims on unscientifically supported statistics no matter how much they favour their particular product.
The ASA, on the other hand, had to decide on whether it was fair to compare a health food with an egg – all will be explained – and whether the term superfood could be used. As with Miss World contests, we’ll take the last point first.
Superfood in a general health claim and so it required specific evidence to support the term. Using the comparison with another foods required a certain level of fairness. The products compared must, to put it simply, be similar.
In this case a chia and flax seed product, the superfood, which was recommended as a breakfast food, was said to contain as much protein as a small egg. It is assumed that the egg was chosen due to it being, in some people’s mind, a breakfast food.
The ASA found that the connection between a chia and flax seed product and an egg was too distant. Whilst an egg could be eaten for breakfast, so might many other products. Breakfast food was too wide a category for the comparison to be successful. Eggs would be similar to milk and cheeses, the chia would need to be compared to other seed products.
The campaign was fronted by an ex-England international rugby player of some quality who has moved up (or down) to being a media personality so one would assume that it was not a cheap campaign. So a considerable waste of time, effort and money in circumstances that must have been seen as risky from the start.
Claims make great headlines for an email marketing campaign. However, ensure they are reasonable and you can back them up. Truth and provability is also attention grabbing.