Advertising watchdog barks at Kodak

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has partly upheld a claim against a range of press and TV ads from Kodak.

The printer company was investigated by the ASA after HP and a member of the public said the ads, which claimed “you’ll save an average of £75 a year on ink” shown on a range of mediums, were misleading and could be proven.

In the press ad the claim was linked to small print that stated “Based on printing 1500 documents and photos vs competitive printers. Excludes media. Actual results may vary.”

When questioned by the watchdog, Kodak said the “average” claim was based on a number of leading industry studies on home printing and small office/home office printing. It said it used a combined average for photo-printing, mono-chrome printing and colour printing using a number of colour ink printers from their competitors. With this it determined the cost of the ink for each of those competitors for 1500 pages, averaging that out, then comparing that with the cost of printing 1500 pages using Kodak ink and printers.

It continued to back up its research claiming that the the annual print volume of 1500 pages was supported by four surveys, two carried out in America (one in 2003 by Cap Ventures and one in 2007 by Lyra), a 2008 user survey for Western Europe by IDC (published after the ads first appeared) and a study for the French and German markets by Lyra and Kodak. It attached full copies of those surveys and listed the range of printers the comparison was with.

Clearcast said it had also endorsed Kodaks comments and had cleared the ads on the basis of the substantiation sent. The media company said the ad made clear the saving was based on printing 1500 documents and photos in the on-screen text.

And the RACC said it too had cleared the ad having received comprehensive written evidence to substantiate the factual claims made and endorsed Kodaks comments, and sent a copy of that information.

However, the ASA wasn’t happy with the evidence. It said the information that Kodak had relied on for its 2007 U.S survey (Lyra) had issued a statement to Hewlett Packard confirming that the figure for that year was particularly high due to small-office and work-at-home users. They said they had revised that figure from 205 to 62.5 documents per month.

“We noted Lyra had carried out a Western European consumer ink survey in 2006 (including home office users). The results for the UK were an average of 84 pages per month, which worked out to 1012 pages per year,” it said in it’s documents.

“We noted the IDC survey (published after the ads first appeared) included offices and laser printers, and was therefore not representative of the inkjet market. We noted that although the study of the French and German markets by Lyra and Kodak showed the mean number of pages printed to be 113 a month, 79 percent of users surveyed printed 100 pages or fewer per month.

Although we noted ink for the Kodak printer was generally cheaper than their competitors, because we were not persuaded that the figure of 1500 pages represented a reasonable yearly print volume for most UK inkjet printer users, we considered the headline claim “youll save an average of £75 a year on ink” created a misleading impression of the savings available. Because of that, we concluded the ads were misleading.”

However, Kodak’s radio ad wasn’t seen as misleading with the ASA claiming: “We noted the claim in the radio ad was “you could save up to £75 a year on your printing costs.

“We considered an “up to” claim should be supported by evidence that showed at least 10 percent of consumers could achieve the saving. To make the claim, Kodak would therefore need to test a range of printers on the market and demonstrate that annual savings of £75 could be made by switching to Kodak on at least 10 percent of the printers on the market.”

It said it had noted the substantiation Kodak had submitted to the RACC tested a range of printers sold between January 2008 and December 2008, and that savings of £75 a year could be achieved on four of those models printing between 600 and 1200 pages a year (depending on the printer model). It also noted that those four printers accounted for 11.7 percent of the printers sold in the period in question.

“Because Kodak had shown it was possible to achieve the saving on 11.7 percent of the printers sold during 2008, and because the number of pages that needed to be printed to make the saving was likely to be achievable in normal use (rather than by high volume inkjet print users only), we concluded the ad was not misleading,” the watchdog concluded.