If you see the words ‘British classic’, ‘best of British’ or ‘truly British’ on an advert, wouldn’t you assume the product in the ad is made here? In the case of some adverts we’ve uncovered, you’d be wrong.
Our latest investigation has unearthed adverts we think are making misleading country-of-origin claims. We think some of these adverts imply their products are British when they’re actually partly or wholly-made abroad.
Most of the companies told us they didn’t agree that the ads implied anything about where the products were made – our research suggests our members think otherwise.
Accurist watch – made in Britain?
For each of the five ads we showed to Which? members, over two-thirds agreed that the advert implied the product was made in a particular country – usually Britain.
Take the Accurist watch for example – despite the presence of the phrase ‘A Timeless British Classic’ in the ad, this watch is actually made in China and Japan. We also showed ads for Renault cars which most people thought came from France, and for Chrysler cars which we think suggested they were American-made.
Now, most of the companies whose adverts we examined have a connection with the country mentioned in their advert. The product was designed or partially made there, or the brand has heritage in that country. However, none of the adverts contained explicit claims about where the products were made.
But it’s clear from our research that the majority of the people we asked felt confused or misled by them – 68% of those who were shown the Accurist ad agreed they’d feel misled if they bought it and found out it wasn’t made in Britain.
Rimmel’s Brit Collection make-up
We also showed our members some Rimmel adverts for the ‘Brit Collection’ make-up range. Around half of people agreed they’d feel misled if they found out the products weren’t made in Britain.
We think it’s a stretch to suggest that the Rimmel London make-up range is ‘truly British’ when the eye pencil was made in Italy, the nail varnish in Spain, and the eyeshadow was made in China. Only the mascara and lipstick were made in the UK.
As the advertising codes don’t have hard and fast rules about these types of claims, it’s wise to be sceptical about ads that seem to imply origin or heritage – I know I will be from now on.
Have you seen an ad you think might imply a product’s made somewhere it’s not? Do you think the rules on how country-of-origin/brand heritage is used in advertising should be stricter?