/ Shopping

‘British classic’ – but it’s made in the Far East

Made in Britain sign and watch (credit Ilovedust)

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?

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As with any advertising these days, just because they make a claim about something, doesn’t mean I’m going to believe it. In fact I go out of my way to avoid adverts (I’m writing this during an ad break), Until the regulators grow a pair and force companies to use words correctly, as say defined in a traditional dictionary, advertisers will say what they think we want to hear. Fixed, Unlimited, British, Free are all examples of words that are used in a headline but whose meaning is changed to another word in the small print. And I’m sure there are other words they misuse to, but the ads must be finishing soon so back to daytime TV.

Do French Fries always come from France? I don’t think so … .

I’d be more worried about mislabelling where it is impossible to determine the true origin of a product, even if you read the fine print: Italian olive oil, for instance. You might assume the olives were grown in Italy. Chances are they came from Africa – only pressed, blended and bottled in Italy, according to my sources.

Welcome back, Em. 🙂

I agree that information needs to be accurate but with advertising, I assume that I’m being told lies.

Ballista says:
21 December 2012

Having worn bespoke suits most of my working life, I would assume that “Bespoke British tailoring…” could only mean a made to measure suit, cut and built by a tailor in the UK. Austin Reed’s tagline is misleading if not worse.
This is not to denigrate Indian, Chinese tailors, however, as I have had suits made by both when serving overseas which were value for money – but they were not British tailoring .

I consider the Austin Reed advertisement to be misleading.

spranglebolt says:
22 December 2012

So I bought a harris tweed jacket from a co named Samuel Windsor. It bears a large label proclaiming ‘SW – England’, and carries a small Union Flag.
Hidden away inside a pocket, it reveals ‘Made in China’.

I suggest that you report this to Trading Standards.

Francis says:
23 December 2012

I drive a Toyota. I think everyone would acknowledge that it’s a Japanese car but it’s made in the UK. If they advertised it as an example of great Japanese engineering, would that be misleading? Of course not. We all understand that companies have their headquarters in one location but often have production facilities elsewhere. It’s quite reasonable that they use the geographical location of their HQ and of their cultural heritage to promote their brand. It’s not misleading at all. I think you are going over the top with your complaint about these adverts.

I’m not sure that ‘great’ would be a very honest description. Toyotas have their problems, just like other cars. Just look at the number that have been recalled because of potentially dangerous faults. Anyone with even limited technical knowledge and an open mind would be able to see examples of poor design in Toyotas, and in other cars.

I don’t believe that anything should be branded as British unless that includes design, almost all components and assembly.

‘British’ can be a useful term to help us decide whether to buy local fruit & veg or products that have been shipped half way round the world, but with multinational companies sourcing components from the cheapest source at the time it is not a useful description for most consumer goods, and probably worthless for cars.

My Joules coat came with a big stitch in label with the strap line ‘Boldly British’ and just underneath that is the ‘Made in Romania’ label!