The Guardian (UK): Shell pulls ad after performance doubts: “Oil giant Shell has been forced to drop a TV commercial extolling the virtues of its latest unleaded fuel after media regulators labelled it misleading. Ofcom upheld a complaint that the claimed performance benefits of the fuel could not be proven to work in all cars and ordered the ad to be taken off air.” (ShellNews.net) Posted 5 Jan 05
Oil giant Shell has been forced to drop a TV commercial extolling the virtues of its latest unleaded fuel after media regulators labelled it misleading.
Ofcom upheld a complaint that the claimed performance benefits of the fuel could not be proven to work in all cars and ordered the ad to be taken off air.
The commercial, for Shell Optimax Unleaded, claimed the fuel could enhance motoring performance providing "extra power to respond safely just when you need it", backed up with the slogan that it was the "only fuel developed with Ferrari".
Citing a previous ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority which criticised Shell for running a similar Optimax print campaign last year, a viewer said the claims wrongly implied that all drivers would benefit from a performance boost if they switched to the fuel, when most vehicles would see little or no improvement.
In its ruling, published almost a year ago, the ASA said that after expert advice it ruled against Shell for implying that "changing to Optimax from other unleaded fuel would significantly and immediately increase the power output of any car under rapid acceleration."
Though Shell promised to amend their advertising, in this case replacing the word "will" with "can", it was not enough to escape censure from Ofcom, which upheld the viewer's contention that the same claim was being made on television.
"We noted the advertiser's assurances that it had changed its advertising claims, but considered the word 'can', used in the context of this claim, indicated more than a possibility of the product working.
"Rather, it suggested that the product would work and viewers would see it as an absolute claim."
JWT, the advertising agency which produced the commercial, said it had changed the wording and insisted that the advert was aimed at existing Optimax users, as evidenced by the voice over, "if you're already using Optimax Unleaded".
It also denied the claim that the advert promised to deliver benefits to all drivers.
But Ofcom said that although the commercial might be perceived to be targeted at existing users, "viewers who did not use the product could understand from the message that Shell Optimax Unleaded makes a difference to existing users and will therefore make a difference for them."
Citing regulations relating to misleading statements and unsubstantiated claims of better performance, the regulator said the ad should not be shown in its current form again.
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