Once again, an advertiser claiming to be the leading player in its field finds the going heavy when put to proof.
Topic: Comparative advertising
Who: Future Horizons and the Advertising Standards Authority
When: February 2003
In a magazine advertisement Future Horizons described itself as "Europe's Leading Semi-Conductor Industry Analyst". The claim was challenged by a competitor.
In response to the complaint, Future Horizons provided a wealth of information about the company's excellent qualities and activities including written testimonials in which the writers confirmed their belief that the advertisers were "Europe's leading analysts", profiles of the careers of their three senior analysts indicating they had over 100 years experience in the sector, information about their wide range of clients, including governments, investment financiers and industrialists and information about various leading conferences in the sector which they hosted and numerous quotes of theirs which were covered in the international business media.
The information missing from all these submissions, however, was hard evidence that in terms of turnover or sales, Future Horizons had the highest market share in Europe in the semi-conductor industry. This, in the ASA's view, was how the "Europe's leading semi-conductor industry analyst" claim was likely to be interpreted and since this was not supported by the facts they had to uphold the complaint:-
Why this matters:
With depressing regularity the Advertising Standards Authority Case Reports record claims to "leading", "number 1" or "top" status in particular industries or sectors which turn out not to unsupported by hard evidence of unequalled sector turnover or sales. Before any claims of this kind can be compliantly made, such evidence should be available so that it can be produced without delay if and when a challenge arises. Advertisers who do this can then avoid wasting time on expansive and eloquent submissions which simply do not support the claim that is being challenged.
On the other hand, the effort may not have been entirely in vain. The ASA report of the complaint, including all the information about its wonders supplied in vain by Future Horizons, appears on the ASA website. This means that it's a great of promotional copy which the Googles of this world will no doubt pick up on if asked to search for semi-conductor analysts.