Gov's 'green' ad banned for misleading consumers and making unsubstantiated claims

A Government TV ad has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleadingly implying that consumers could save more money than they would need to spend when signing up to a "Green Deal" assessment and installing energy efficiency improvements to their home.

The campaign for the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) drew the ire of a single complainant, Crystal Home Improvements. The company objected to the ad on 10 counts, of which six were upheld by the ASA.

The TV ad featured TV presenter and "energy saving expert" Oliver Heath visiting a man’s house, while a voiceover said: "We’d all like to keep our homes warm and save money on energy bills this winter, but how can you find out if your insulation is thick enough to keep the heat in, or whether a new boiler could save you hundreds of pounds a year?"

The ad went on to tell consumers how to book a "Green Deal assessment for your home… Go to www.snugandsave.co.uk for more information and tips from Oliver."

The ad offered advice on energy efficiency improvements such as wall insulation and installing more energy efficient boilers, while telling consumers that savings form energy bills though making such modifications would ultimately save them money. But the ads provided scant evidence to make such lofty claims, the ASA ruled.

An accompanying four-page advertorial in the national press carried the same message, and mentioned how "green" home improvements could boost a homeowner’s property value.

The ASA ruled that the ad’s various savings claims – such as "the money that we are saving more than covers any repayments for having the work done" – could not be substantiated and that the DECC could not guarantee that Green Deal repayments would not exceed savings.

On another count, the ad also failed to communicate that consumers could be charged for a Green Deal assessment.

The DECC was also taken to task for the implication that presenter Oliver Heath made savings through the Green Deal, when in fact he was not a Green Deal customer.

He told viewers: "My annual gas and electricity bills have dropped from £2,500 a year to £850 a year." The ASA ruled that the claim was misleading.

The Government department, which admitted that some details backing its claims were missing from the campaign, was told to ensure that future marketing communications contained sufficient evidence and did not misleadingly imply that savings were guaranteed.

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