Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and A&T International Ltd (t/a Bella&Toby)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 1 March 2023
Law stated as at: 6 March 2023
In September 2022, various advertisements for a dog bed from the company Bella&Toby were seen on social media and on their company website. This included:
- A paid-for social media ad with an image of dog beds and a statement “DON’T LET YOUR PET SUFFER WHILE YOU’RE AT WORK … 1 in 4 pets suffer from anxiety when home alone, but with Bella&Toby’s Anti-stress bed, your pet won’t be one of them!“
- A social media page with an image of a dog lying on a dog bed and an introduction which stated, “Ease Anxiety & Calm your Pet…”
- Bella&Toby’s website with an image of a dog sitting on a dog bed and stated, “Say Goodbye to Stress and Anxiety and give your Pet the comfort deserved”
In relation to the various advertisements, the ASA considered that consumers would understand from this that the Bella&Toby’s dog bed reduced or eliminated separation anxiety.
Bella&Toby were able to provide general evidence to support these claims, such as the opinions of a veterinary clinician stating the effect on dogs of sleeping in various positions.
However, the ASA held that, while this evidence provided a general context, the evidence was insufficient to support the claims that had been made. This was because the evidence did not focus on the use of the Bella&Toby’s dog bed specifically, and therefore was not adequate to show that the claims were accurate in relation to this specific dog-bed product. Additionally, the one customer testimonial in relation to the Bella&Toby bed was not considered to be “robust evidence required to support objective, scientific claims”.
Why this matters:
This ruling is an important reminder of the need for businesses to ensure that all their product claims are fully substantiated with relevant evidence specific to their product. While broader evidence (for example, general studies and research reports etc.) is helpful to provide a general context, claims for a specific product require substantiation to demonstrate that the claim in relation to that specific product is accurate and not misleading.