The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today published a reversal of a notable ruling from last year. In October 2016 the ASA banned Oak Furniture Land from using the phrases “No veneer in ‘ere” and ‘solid hardwood’. Today they have reversed their decision and ruled in favour of the advertiser.
The case hinged on the definition of veneer and consumer’s likely expectations. Oak Furniture Land explained that some of their products were made with an oak wrap technique which involved multiple pieces of hardwood glued together, and that this was very different to a thin layer of hardwood covering MDF.
In the original ruling last year the ASA acknowledged that the furniture was made from hardwood, not veneer-covered MDF, but considered that ‘the furniture’s construction was inconsistent with likely consumer expectation of solid hardwood items made without veneer’. On that basis the complaint was upheld and a number of ads were banned.
The reversal today follows an independent review of the ASA’s decision. The full text of the ruling is available here, but in their conclusion they say:
‘Because none of Oak Furniture Land’s furniture contained any cheaper material such as MDF or plywood, and because the oak-wrap technique was restricted to only the legs of the dining tables, while the rest of the tables were made from solid exposed wood, we concluded that the claims “no veneer”, “solid hardwood” and “100% solid hardwood” were unlikely to mislead the average consumer into taking a transactional decision that they otherwise would not have taken.’
We welcome the result of this independent review. Often the issues on which the ASA and Clearcast’s views differ are matters of nuance and open to interpretation. This case highlights the robust nature of the self-regulatory system and we shall continue to work closely with the ASA to ensure ads are able to get on air and stay there.