Email and the Law

Prove what you claim in email marketing

Regulatory bodies on both sides of the Atlantic have in recent months had to decide on whether comparative claims used in advertising were fair. Words like best, most, top and such-like make for high open rates in email marketing. The decisions have much in them that is useful when planning a campaign, not the least of which is that there must be some statistical or scientific basis for such claims.

In the USA Dyson was a bit put-out by claims from a rival vacuum cleaner marketing company to the effect that their product was America’s most recommended vacuum/vacuum brand. The company based their claims on the returns of consumer reviews on a number of online retailer websites. The total number of posts used was some 10,000.

Various objections to the methods were raised, not the least being the fact that the websites used multiple methods of recording recommendations, as well as the whole country not being covered.

For the UK, the comparison was more thought-provoking. A breakfast product made from seeds, specifically chia and flax, was compared favourably with an albeit ‘small’ egg. This was with regards to protein contained in each. Objections were raised to the term superfood but the main contention was that the comparison was not like for like.

In both cases the various regulatory bodies found that the comparison was flawed. In the USA it was decided that the use of crowd sourced or aggregated data across multiple platforms should be approached with care. In this specific case it failed the body’s standards of truthfulness, reliability and representativeness test.

Similarly with the ASA in this country, it was found that just because an egg could be eaten at breakfast it did not mean that it could be compared with seed products, certainly not for protein content.

It is believed that the ASA would have complied with the American conclusion if it had been required to test it.

These decisions make it clear that before using some grandiose comparison to head your latest email marketing campaign you should ensure that it is fair and scientifically provable. Sounding good is clearly not enough.




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