NHC secures ASA ruling on Strauss Water

28 March 2012: The Advertising Standards Authority has today (28.03.2012) ruled that Strauss Water must put a stop to their misleading and inaccurate statements about bottled water. Strauss Water has been advertising in the London Evening Standard with factually inaccurate information that denigrates bottled water. The ASA has upheld all four of our complaints against the company, which means they can no longer use their misleading and defamatory claims about bottled water in any of their advertising and marketing materials, including their website.
The NHC challenged the ASA on the following claims contained within three Strauss Water advertisements:

CLAIM 1. the claims that plastic water bottles present risks to health, in the ad were misleading and denigratory, because bottled water is sold in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, which do not contain BPA, and because the level of antimony in bottled water is well below the legally permitted level.
CLAIM 2. claims about the environmental benefit of using the product compared to bottled water in the ad were misleading because we understand that it is manufactured and assembled abroad.
CLAIM 3. the claim “… a one-litre bottle of water needs three litres…” in the ad was misleading and could not be substantiated.
CLAIM 4. the claim “The cleanest, purest water you’ve ever tasted”, in the ad was misleading and could not be substantiated.

ASA Assessment:
CLAIM 1. “Considered the overall impression of the ad was such that the claims were likely to be interpreted as relating to plastic water bottles of the type likely to be generally purchased, rather than to specific types of polycarbonate containers.”

“We had not seen evidence that plastic bottles presented the risks to health described in the ad, we concluded that it was misleading. In addition, we noted the claims related to health risks were very strong and, because they had not been substantiated, we also concluded that the ad denigrated bottled water.”

On this point, the ad breached CAP code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.38 (Other comparisons) and 3.42 (Imitation and denigration).

CLAIM 2. “We noted the ad compared the environmental impact of T6 and bottled water; it made repeated claims about the products environmental benefits compared to bottled water and included text that stated, for example, that the T6 did not harm the planet and that consumers who used it could have a “clear conscience”. We noted we had not seen evidence that was the case or indeed any evidence that examined the environmental impact of the product itself or its environmental impact in comparison to bottled water. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”

On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.38 (Other comparisons) and 11.1, 11.3 (Environmental claims).

CLAIM 3. “We noted the evidence Strauss Water submitted took the form of a fact sheet that related to bottled water production in 2006. We also noted, however, we had not seen any further evidence in support of that claim and considered a fact sheet was not adequate evidence to substantiate the objective claim “… a one-litre bottle of water needs three litres…” Because the claim had not been substantiated, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.38 (Other comparisons) and 11.3 (Environmental claims).

CLAIM 4. “We considered [that these claims were] likely to be interpreted as an objective claim about the cleanliness and purity of the water. We noted we had not seen any evidence to substantiate the claim and therefore concluded that it was misleading.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.38 (Other comparisons).

NHC Press Statement
“We strongly support the ASA ruling that Strauss Water’s advertising over the last six months has misled the public about bottled water. Naturally sourced bottled water is one of the healthiest ways to hydrate, and in fact one of the most environmentally friendly soft drinks produced*. At a time when the average Briton drinks less than one glass of water a day**, all forms of water consumption should be encouraged, and it is irresponsible of Strauss Water to use such outlandish and inaccurate denigration in a bid to promote their filtration machines”.

Kinvara Carey, General Manager, Natural Hydration Council

For the full adjudication see: http://www.asa.org.uk/ASA-action/Adjudications/2012/3/Strauss-Water-UK-Ltd/SHP_ADJ_173288.aspx

* Zenith International, UK Bottled Water Report, April 2011
** DEFRA National Tap Water Consumption Survey 2008