NEWS2 July 2009

P&G told to pull TV ad over ‘misleading’ survey claims

UK

UK— The Advertising Standards Authority has told Procter & Gamble to stop broadcasting a TV ad for Clairol Nice ’n Easy hair dye, because claims made in the ad on the basis of survey results are ‘likely to mislead’.

The ad, made by Grey London, said: “93% of Red magazine readers would recommend Nice ’n Easy to a friend. The other 7% probably don’t have any friends.” It also stated in on-screen text that the figures referred to “participants in a survey of 245 Red magazine readers, April 2008”.

In response to a complaint, the ASA challenged P&G over the claims, and discovered that survey participants had been recruited via an email sent to members of the Red Reader Panel, but that recipients could also invite friends to take part. Participants were sent a free sample of the hair dye and a questionnaire, and were offered a prize of a £50 John Lewis voucher or a trip to New York for completing the survey.

In an adjudication published yesterday, the ASA said that although prize winners were selected at random, “respondents may have been inclined to be less than impartial in their survey responses in order to stand a better chance of winning”.

It also said: “We considered it was possible that some of the 245 people who completed the survey might not have been Red readers; they might have said they were just to enter the prize draw.”

As a result the ASA concluded that “the survey’s results did not substantiate the claims ‘93% of Red magazine readers would recommend Nice ’n Easy to a friend’ and ‘Recommended by 93% of Red readers’ and those claims were likely to mislead.”

The authority said the ad breached its standards code and must not be broadcast again in its current form.

@RESEARCH LIVE

5 Comments

11 years ago

A couple of thoughts I'm kind of hoping that no MRS members were involved in this. If that's true the MRS can't do much (anything) about this, which is a real shame Cheaply executed research is often a false economy.

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11 years ago

A friend of mine works for a beauty products company and admitted to me that these 'statistics' are frequently based on the responses of individuals who are given free samples and generally work for head office. What surprises me is that this doesn't happen more often. I used to work for a company that did a lot of research for PR firms and let's just say some of the methodologies used and interpretations made for this kind of claim are shaky at best.

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11 years ago

Love those agencies! They seldom let good science stop them from a great headline! And there's a brand manager somewhere in P&G who probably wouldn't know good research if they tripped over it either. That said, as a market researcher I probably wouldn't know a good shampoo if I tripped over it either. However I'm glad the ASA did some policing on this one. Good on them. Bouffy research is way worse than boofy hair.

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11 years ago

Thanks a bunch for confirming the prejudices of all the people who rubbish market research for precisely this sort of poorly thought through, biased survey work. Just because research is for PR and promotional purposes doesn't mean it shouldn't be done properly.

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11 years ago

I pity the poor MR suckers who were told to do the work with a sample probably designed by a marketer pulling rank and demanding the study be designed as it was. While unscrupulous marketers understand that good MR principles are easy to corrupt when jobs are in short supply and researchers have a mortgages to pay and families to feed, they can be puppet masters. This is why MR should never be part of a marketing department.

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