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Viewers confused but ASA rule Unilever ad does not mislead audience

By Chris BARKER , 19-Dec-2013
Last updated on 19-Dec-2013 at 10:44 GMT

Viewers confused but ASA rule Unilever ad does not mislead audience

British advertising regulatory body the ASA has ruled that a recent Unilever advert, which received 10 complaints, did not mislead its audience - despite the confusing effect it had on the audience.

The TV ad for Dove soap depicted test paper and water being applied to four different bars of soap, with a caption stating “time lapse 2 minutes with repeated water applications.”

This test aimed to demonstrate that Dove did not have a dehydrating effect on the skin; however, this effect was undermined by the fact that the text specifying a 2 minute time lapse faded away before the Unilever bar appeared on screen.   

However, the ASA concluded that the evidence demonstrated that a range of soap bars had been subject to the same test conditions and that the ad fairly represented that.”

Unilever response

The TV advert was intended to show that Dove brand soap was more moisturizing than the alternatives depicted and did not damage the strip of test paper like the other bars.  

However, the complainants got the wrong impression from the ad, believing that the Dove bar was not subjected to the same test conditions as the other products depicted.

Unilever has stated that the depiction of the test was inadvertently misleading, and that the experiment was performed in the exact same conditions each time. It was said to be “purely coincidental” that the text faded away before the Dove bar appeared.

They also said that they would be prepared to extend the duration for which the text appeared on screen in the future, in order to assist viewers who had gotten the wrong idea.

ASA comments

After reviewing the photos and videos submitted by Unilever, the ASA concluded: “While we acknowledge the time at which the on-screen text disappeared seemed to have led some viewers to believe that the Dove bar was subject to different test conditions to the other bars, we noted that was not the case.”

“We therefore concluded that the depiction of the test conditions was not misleading.”

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