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back to article 'As seen on TV' claims can't be made about unbranded props

Companies cannot claim that the product they are advertising is '... as seen on TV ' or '... as seen in' certain publications if those products merely featured as unbranded props in programmes or in paid-for ads in those mediums, an ad body has said. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) said it could be misleading for …

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FAIL

And there was me thinking that "As Seen On TV" meant it had featured on Watchdog and should be avoided...

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Or

Or Rogue Trader.

...or even Crime Watch.

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I think the last (and only) thing I ever owned that even BOTHERED to put "As Seen On TV" on it was a small children's toy that I won when I was young. It was basically two handheld nets and a ball that you bounced between them, like a reverse tennis. God knows WHERE it was seen on TV, but that was the 80's in Wales, so it could have been anything from Fun House to some obscure advert that only played on Welsh TV.

Do people actually CARE about something being on TV any more? Maybe in the 50's that was some claim but today? Really? Hell, getting on QVC would probably still qualify you but even then - that's hardly a sign of a quality product that I'd feel the need to shout about on the packaging or would influence my decision as a buyer.

iPad - as seen on TV! Yeah, that'll make a big upward spike in their sales, that will.

It's almost as ridiculous as a product having on its packaging "As seen on the Internet!".

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"As seen on the Internet!"

Me thinks you need to take out some sort of protection on that expression because me thinks someone is going pinch the idea ...

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Re: "As seen on the Internet!"

You're right - me!

When I exhibit my wares in person, I like to have a little joke or two in the flyers etc, and I think that will fit the bill nicely for a new one. Using it on the web might be fun as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "As seen on the Internet!"

"Methinks". What are you; living in the middle ages?

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=methinks

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When we start

seeing "as seen on Radio 4" THATS when to get worried..

"And tonight on beginners gardeners question time, we look at the potato tree".

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iPad - as seen on TV

A slight irrelevance, but am I the only person to be annoyed by the way presenters of documentaries are suddenly all showing us stuff on their fondleslabs?

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Re: iPad - as seen on TV

In twenty years time when those programmes are repeated, the young people of that future generation will piss themselves with laughter at how bloody stupid and primitive those old fondleslab thingies look to them. It's the same as how I nearly wet myself at footage of yuppies using mobile brick phones when ever I see some documentary about how shit the 80s was!

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Huh, does 'as Seen On TV' actually mean something? Everything is on TV these days. Most channels devote 10% - 20% of their time to showing various products that you can buy. How does this sticker somehow make any difference? Are people specifically buying things because the same product has been shown on television at some point? If so I think time should be devoted to analysing and restricting those morons instead of the advertising.

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Like many others here, I just thought it meant it had been on TV somewhere.

I'd be more interested in the ASA properly enforcing terms like "natural" (literally: occurs in nature) or "king size" (Which king? Henry VIII was 5'2" in his socks; why isn't my King Size Mars also 5'2"?).

Maybe they could just put a disclaimer on the bottom of all adverts:

"Most marketing people are lying scum and most of this is probably untrue or intentionally misleading"

Or maybe I should just stay away from Bill Hicks material for a while.

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Anonymous Coward

Adverts

Like other's I rarely see "As Seen On TV" anymore but when I was younger I always assumed (and was probably right) that it meant that they had advertised it on TV. Any brand that could afford TV advertising in the days before large-multi channel services came along had some kudos that they were a large, legitimate company if they had TV advertising.

When the satellite services came along the claim became a lot more watered down. However, I don't think it is misleading. I would never think ASOTV means "editorial reviewed and received praise on TV". Surely for that they would write Homes in Your Attic: "Best product of 2009"

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I can beat that

I once saw something in a Birmingham tat shop advertised as "Similar to a product seen on TV". I'm afraid I can't remember what it was.

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Re: I can beat that

Fabulous. "This product vaguely resembles something that once had an advert!"

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Re: I can beat that

This is even better - courtesy of Ashens - As seen on TV (in some countries)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=8asnz3E4n4o#t=240s

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FAIL

Re: I can beat that

Even better, at the boat show in Bristol back in (IIRC) the 1980s, there was a little one-man, outboard motor powered catamaran which was advertised with "As seen in the latest James Bond Movie!"

Well, yes, it could be seen in the background if you didn't blink at the wrong moment and were looking in right direction, but the implication was that you'd see Bond riding around on one, which certainly wasn't the case.

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Why should they be able to claim it at all

What does it in mean in the slightest that something was "seen on TV". It tells you nothing at all about the item in the slightest, imbues it with no qualities at all and probably only appeared on TV because someone put it there, e.g. in an infomercial. I'd be happy to see the term go.

But it's only the tip of the bullshit iceberg. Virtually every TV ad for toothpaste, pet food, fast food, clothes / dish washing liquid / tablets, hair & beauty products is filled with weasel words, misleading statements, pseudo scientific jargon, dubious computer animations, and phony baloney survey results. All to con the consumer into thinking that the product is better than it actually is.

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Joke

Re: Why should they be able to claim it at all

very true ,

Maybe all advertising ,TV or otherwise, should made to carry the disclaimer :

"A lot of the above is statistically likely to be bullshit , please research product before buying"

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Joke

Re: Why should they be able to claim it at all

"weasel words, misleading statements, pseudo scientific jargon, dubious computer animations, and phony baloney survey results"

Isn't that the dictionary definition of Advertising anyway?

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Angel

Re: Why should they be able to claim it at all

I'd just be happy for the ASA to crack down on particular practices which are common place.

I alluded to some of them above. e.g. Oil of Olay claiming to "fight" the "7 signs of aging". What the hell does that even mean? Is it equivalent to picking a fight with 7 skinheads and getting the crap kicked out you? Why are all the women in these ads portrayed in desaturated light and soft focus if it works so well?

Or Colgate saying 80% of dentists recommend Colgate when for all anyone knows the dentist just ticked some "do you recommend Colgate" when applying for a box of free samples of toothpaste or getting doorstopped by some phone survey. It's a meaningless claim.

Or 8 or of 10 cats preferred Whiskas vs what and what were they accustomed to eating prior to this test?

And so on. Basically if they're going to claim something of a scientific or preferential nature then a url to the study should be shown on the screen so people may view it, the study itself should be of a sufficiently rigorous to eliminate bias and the advertiser should be prevented from cherry picking favourable data out of context from it. If they can't do that they shouldn't be making the claims in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

@ DrXym Re: Why should they be able to claim it at all

Pepsi Challenge is another one:

Even today it is quoted (by independent industry observers) that people prefer Pepsi but Coke has the better brand.

However, if it is based on "The Pepsi Challenge" - when I was a kid I stood in a queue at a shopping area to take the Pepsi Challenge with a lot of other kids and noticed that they never swapped the glass around. Therefore the one on the left was always the Pepsi. It was also obvious that if you preferred the Pepsi then you got a free goody bag. If you didn't then you got nothing.

A long line of kids all went up, drank both cups and "preferred" the Pepsi. Was this then used as their statistical evidence for the Pepsi preference that exists until this day - I don't know for sure, but maybe.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why should they be able to claim it at all

There are standards and they do get applied.

The whiskers comment, for example: It's '8 out of 10 owners who expressed a preference say their cats prefer it'. So out of every 10 cat owners who express a preference to buy whiskers say they do so because their cat likes it better than whatever alternative (if any) they've tried. It also doesn't give you any indication as to what proportion of cat owners express a preference: It could be 1% for all you know, meaning only 0.8% of cats seem to prefer whiskers to alternatives. Equally, it could be 40% (if half of all cat owners express said preference). You don't know, but it should be there in some small print.

Colgate's claims are probably true, also, if you apply whatever caveat goes along with the claim.

It's all a bit of a word game: You have to listen carefully and watch for the qualifiers and caveats. They have to be present if a claim depends on them, else they break the regulations. Take a look at a billboard offering some great offer, or some flyer offering the same. Note the small print: That's where you find out such things as 'subject to availability' and 'only available on certain models', or the best one ever: 'based on our rivals most expensive charges, but we're not going to tell you that, only that they charge x for their product on one of their plans for their supreme ultra inclusive item where as we're charging much less for this not quite similar product which we're discounting heavily in the hope to get you to buy from us'.

You don't have to think like an advertiser to understand the tricks they're trying: You just have to be logical and pedantic as hell.

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Re: What does it in mean in the slightest...

As many posters have already noted, those of us with a couple of brain cells to rub together recognize it as a good flag for things to be avoided. Admittedly I do occasionally wander through the "As Seen on TV" store in the mall just to see what kind of junk they think they can make money from. It is a good time waster and generates a chuckle or two.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why should they be able to claim it at all

What are the seven signs of aging?

* Reverence for the past.

* Increasing rudeness.

* Owning a cat.

* Double incontinence.

* Owning tins of food so old they don't have a sell-by date.

* Reading the obituaries first.

* Enjoying BBC One's light entertainment.

I'm not sure how Olay helps.

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'As seen on TV'

As redundant as saying 'award winning' or 'up to 20Mb/s broadband'. They tell you nothing about the quality of the product you are buying.

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Re: 'As seen on TV'

'award winning'

God, yes I hate that one. What award? Given by whom? (Perhaps the wooden spoon award by Which magazine?)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'As seen on TV'

I'm skeptical about 'award winning' for a slightly different reason. An independent award for IT innovation went to a group who used a product produced by the sponsoring firm. All the other nominations used a rival's product, which was generally considered superior. Regardless of the merits of the winning innovation, it left the impression that the award was biased.

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Bronze badge

Re: 'Award Winning'

In the slightly earlier days of the internet (although I'm sure they still exist today) you could go to a site and ask to be considered as a nominee for their award e.g. "Tech Superior Web Gold Award". Sometimes you'd have to pay for the nomination, sometimes you'd have to pay to be considered for the'gold' nomination often they were free to be nominated.

The point being you would always get a reply back a few days later saying something along the lines of "Our editor has reviewed your site and are please to award you their Tech Superior Web Gold Award". You could then display that on your site.

All a big 'harmless' con, and each party knew it, but it could raise your profile as an "award winning" site. The developer could tell the CEO that their site has won an award.

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I do everything I can do avoid any and all forms of advertising - with considerable success I might add. I wub my PVRs :)

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WTF?

Surely "as seen on tv" only menas that the product, possibly with a different brand name or none, was caught on camera and broadcast on a tv channel with at least one viewer? Anyway why would I want to buy something just because it had been seen on tv? As Richard 81 pointed out it could have been on Crimewatch or Rogue Traders, or Cowboy Builders for that matter.

Why not put "as heard on radio" if it was mentioned by an actor on The Archers?

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Here in The States

its a good indicator that someone has made a 30 minute infomercial about it, nothing about any kind of independent review.

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Remember

...this is marketing aimed at the lowest common denominator. The same people who buy headphones because the packaging says "suitable for mp3".

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Facepalm

I thought it meant

As seen on WATCHDOG, CRIMEWATCH etc...

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Facepalm

So the ASA have plenty of time to define new usage restrictions on the phrase "as seen on TV" well beyond the literal meaning of the words, but still they cannot or will not hold advertisers to the dictionary definition of the word "unlimited"?

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Bronze badge

At Glasgow markets I've seen boards claiming that goods are "As seen on Crimewatch UK", which might be a recommendation to some customers, if true. That would imply that they were authentic goods being fenced and not poorly made counterfeits, which would indeed be the province of Watchdog. I have bought underpants that were not exactly named Calvin Klein, e.g. "Calvins", but I don't expect anyone to be deceived or impressed any more than I was, and anyway they cover my requirements.

I have also seen home games consoles that look a bit like the recognised names in the field but clearly aren't, but might deceive a stupid purchaser.

I would have assumed that "As seen on TV" meant "This is the same product that was described in an advertisement on television, and, again, not a crude and less satisfactory imitation", but I don't mind having it cleared up.

By the way, I assume that explicit product placement cases also don't count. Specsavers

sponsors [The TV Book Club] on channel More4, so I assume the presenters are all wearing Specsavers spectacles, but those presenters are probably wearing the same spectacles for everything else they do as well - something to watch out for(if you have nothing better to do). Or maybe they just got reading glasses...

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See what they are saying - sensible

What they are saying is if its in the background scene of Inspector Morse that doesn't qualify, if its reviewed on the gadget show it does.

But I agree Unlimited is annoying. I also think the mascara ads where they put in 1pt text at the end (fuller lashes created by huge false lashes our mascara doesn't really do a thing) annoying. -I don't even use Mascara.

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Alert

Product placement is the new advertisement

Many of the TV shows I don't watch*, simply have the proponents holding, driving, eating, wearing or using the "product" during the show. It's hard to know when the ads start and finish sometimes.

Apple are one of the best at this. No one, but no one, uses a PC on TV it seems.

* I see the occasional grab here and there.

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Re: Product placement is the new advertisement

"Apple are one of the best at this. No one, but no one, uses a PC on TV it seems."

Not at all true - there are plenty of non-Apple PCs used on TV, but you very very rarely get to see them without strategically placed stickers obscuring any manufacturer logos/branding.

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Joke

Apple are one of the best at this

Not really, it's just that when someone needs to be seen with a computer the only available model is the one that the 'creative' has brought in with him as his badge of office.

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In America every advertisement for toothpaste, mouthwash, and sugar-free gum says something like "Approved by the American Dental Association." This is akin to food companies advertising that their products weren't rejected by the FDA.

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IR

Shops

In the US there are "As seen on tv" shops that sell all the tat that is advertised on tv that you can otherwise only buy mail-order with absurdly inefficient shipping and handling departments (does it really cost them $8 each time to put it in a cardboard box and write an address on it?)

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97.3% of advert statistics are just made up.

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88% of discussions involving statistics include the statement that "x% of statistics are made up".

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Anonymous Coward

Didn't bother to read the article...

...and won't bother with any others obliterated by a popup window for cloud surveys or whatever.

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