It is official – new formula Fairy Liquid really is more effective than rival brands at getting shot of grime after the ad watchdog poured down the plughole concerns that the Procter & Gamble brand’s claims were misleading.
The issue was sparked by a TV ad – and a video on demand version – which stated in the voice-over: “Here’s a very scientific experiment to see how much easier new Fairy with Lift Action makes the washing up.”
Images compared Fairy Liquid and the “next best-selling brands” being used on a red sauce in a white container. The ad showed people adding the new Fairy Liquid and warm water to stained containers before closing the lids and shaking them.
After the cleaning process, the Fairy Liquid resulted in a container which was clean and the other brand resulted in a container which was still stained by red sauce. The voice-over continued: “It’s why it’s been awarded Which? Best in Test. New formula Fairy. Shaking up the washing up.”
But five complainants, who did not believe that Fairy Liquid would leave a container without any marks if the competitor’s washing up liquid did leave some, challenged whether the ads misleadingly exaggerated the efficacy of the product.
In response, P&G sent back a dossier of evidence, including an assessment from an independent laboratory that they said showed that new formula Fairy Liquid performed better than other tested samples, including products from all their key UK competitors and their previous Fairy Liquid product.
P&G also provided a report from the same independent laboratory that confirmed the results achieved in the demonstration shown in the ads. The report included the results of three tests that they carried out on the product and on different competing products. The laboratory confirmed that their method had been accepted by the industry and was now used by an internationally acknowledged consumer organisation. They also demonstrated that they had run the test many times and the results of the test rarely deviated.
Faced with such a stack of evidence, the ASA concluded that both the methodology and results of the test were “robust”, and understood that the methodology used by the independent laboratory had been accepted by the industry as a whole.
It ruled: “We considered that the tests had been carried out against the next bestselling brands, that Procter & Gamble had demonstrated that the scene in the ads could be replicated, and that the evidence demonstrated that the new formula Fairy Liquid was better than the products it had been tested against in its ability to emulsify grease. We therefore concluded that the ads were not misleading.”
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