A TV ad for a £500 air purifier from Dyson has been banned for implying indoor pollution is more damaging to health than a car exhaust.
The commercial for the Dyson Purifier Heater created the impression that people were more at risk in their own home than on the street.
However, while the imagery may have helped to boost sales of the hi-tech appliance, advertising watchdogs have ruled the message was misleading.
Advertising watchdogs criticised the advertisement for Sir James Dyson’s Purifier Heater which they claimed was misleading by exaggerating the amount of pollution in the home
The commercial began with a woman looking visibly concerned about the fumes, shown as a green vapour, coming from a car exhaust outside her home.
In the background a voice-over emphasised her concerns, by asking: ‘What could be worse than the pollution outdoors?’
The woman was seen going into the sanctuary of her home where she would apparently be safer.
However, the voice-over then said: ‘Well the pollution indoors can be up to five times worse where gases and microscopic particles can build up.’
The camera followed the woman as she walked into the kitchen where a number of appliances let off purple and green vapour, including household cleaning products next to a fridge, three potted plants and a hob.
The TV ad was promoting the Dyson Purifier Heater, pictured
Text appeared above the items indicated which pollutants they released – benzene gas, pollen particles, formaldehyde gas and allergens.
The woman was then shown holding a smart phone where an App measuring air quality in the home flashed up the word ‘Poor’.
The camera then cut to a shot of the Dyson Purifier Heater, an air filtration device, which sucked in the coloured vapour.
The voice-over said: ‘But Dyson’s Purifier Heater uses a HEPA filter to capture particles and activated carbon to capture gases while warming or cooling you.’
The ASA said people complained the TV ad exaggerated the health risks posed by pollution levels in a typical domestic kitchen and were unhappy about the comparison with a car exhaust.
Dyson insisted it did not intend to exaggerate household air pollution. It provided scientific papers which it said proved there is a problem.
This included a paper from the European Respiratory Journal that stated concentrations of some air pollutants were 2-5 times higher indoors than outdoors.
It also provided a study by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which stated ‘indoor air levels of many pollutants may be 2-5 times and occasionally more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels’.
The company also referenced a report by the Royal College of Physicians which stated ‘there are few regulatory controls on indoor pollution, apart from building regulations. The drive to reduce energy costs, by creating homes with tighter ventilation, could be making the situation worse.’
However, the ASA said these did not justify the claims made in the commercial, saying ‘the reports only discussed the presence and types of indoor pollutants and, although some of those reports did discuss the impact on health, they did not state whether they were more damaging to health than outdoor pollutants’.
It added: ‘We considered that the reports were not relevant in determining the comparative damage of indoor and outdoor pollutants and that the evidence was therefore not sufficient to demonstrate that indoor pollution was more damaging than outdoor pollution.’
It said the commercial was ‘misleading’. Therefore, it said: ‘We told Dyson Ltd not to make implied health claims in their ads in the absence of adequate evidence to support such claims.’
A Dyson spokeswoman said: ‘Indoor air quality can be up to five times worse than outdoor. We respect the ASA’s decision and will refine our advert but will continue to raise awareness of this issue.’