Twenty one viewers of an ad for DFS sofas were struck by the considerable size of the comfy merchandise when superimposed on footage of members of the “Nickelback” band and others singing and dancing. Were the settees really that big? Omar Bucchioni applies the ruler.
Topic: Misleading advertising
Who: Advertising Standard Authority
When: December 2008
Law stated as at: 10 December 2008
The Advertising Standard Authority (“ASA”) has recently investigated a TV ad for a furniture store because 21 viewers challenged whether the ads exaggerated the size of the sofas being advertised.
Several TV ads for furniture retailer DFS featured people miming, dancing and playing air guitar to a rock song, while standing in front of, or sitting on, a range of sofas. Some of the sofas appeared to be oversized.
According to the ASA, DFS explained that normally they filmed actors either on location in homes or in a DFS showroom, with a range of products. However, on this occasion DFS filmed members of the music group “Nickelback”, as well as members of the public, in various world locations singing and dancing to a particular song against a ‘green screen’, to be superimposed later onto a room background or a sofa background.
DFS explained that during filming, a ‘typical’ sofa was used as a reference point in case the actor needed to use one during their performance. Then, the agency matched the sofa images to locations from their library of room backgrounds. Once the background had been chosen, the sofa image was then superimposed on top of it. Apparently, in order to ensure that the new product image was the correct size and angle, the product that was originally in the background image was used as a template for size and angles, taking particular care to ensure that the new superimposed sofas appeared as ‘real’ in their chosen background as possible.
Despite these careful explanations, the ASA upheld the complaints. The regulator felt that DFS had not been able to demonstrate that the sofas featured in the ad were accurate reflections, size-wise of the actual sofas sold.
Why this matters:
Extreme care must be taken when preparing superimposed images for TV ads. Filming actors against a “green screen” may result in images of different size from the original shooting being put into the background. Ultimately the ASA confirmed that they considered the sofas large in relation to the actors because DFS failed to provide the ASA with photographic evidence of the actual size of the advertised sofas. Although DFS did submit copies of the three press ads that featured three different sofas (same sofas also featured in the TV ads) with people sitting on them, this was considered not to be enough.
The full ASA report is here.