A television advert for the Ssangyong Korando SUV has been found to be misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The advert promoted the Korando as “New Zealand’s best value mid-sized SUV”, but the ASA’s appeal board decided that claim lacked appropriate supporting evidence.
The ad, and the decision about what is the best value mid-sized SUV, has been considered twice this year by the advertising regulator, which has made an about-turn.
A member of the public, C. Franks, first complained about the ad earlier this year.
He argued the ad’s claim was strange when the Korando was compared to another mid-sized SUV, the Peugeot 4008, which was on the market for the same price.
Mr Franks said the Peugeot 4008 has features that the Korando doesn’t have – including rain sensing wipers, seven airbags and rear parking sensors – making the Peugeot 4008 better value.
But Ssangyong argued value was measured by a number of factors over the vehicle’s life including cost of servicing, resale value, cost of spare parts, and dealer back-up and service.
In July, the ASA complaints board sided with Ssangyong and decided the ad was not misleading.
However, Mr Franks appealed the decision, saying the complaints board had misinterpreted evidence regarding the meaning of “best value”, setting a dangerous precedent.
The ASA chairperson accepted the appeal, and the ASA appeal board considered the matter afresh on 6 September.
In a newly released decision, the appeal board decided consumers need to have confidence the advertiser has a reasonable basis for making a claim of “best value”.
“Any claims made by advertisers therefore, should be supported by sound, relevant, clear and robust evidence,” the appeal board ruled.
“A ‘best value’ claim would generally imply a comparison with other similar products available on market. In this case this would mean a comparison with all the other mid-size SUVs available on the New Zealand market.”
In the absence of appropriate evidence supporting the claim, the appeal board ruled the ad was likely to mislead the consumer and had not been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility.
The decision means the ad needs to be modified or removed.