Michelin tyres advertorial on Telegraph website banned
An advertorial for Michelin tyres has been banned in its original form for claiming that the premium brand is safer in wet conditions than budget competitors.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also ruled that the page and embedded video on telegraph.co.uk was not obviously identifiable to readers as an advert.
The advertorial, seen in August, compared Michelin's tyres with an unspecified budget brand, concluding that premium tyres improved safety and performance in wet conditions over the cheaper version.
The page included statements such as "performance driving news" and "As part of the Telegraph's recent Performance Driving Day, in association with Michelin".
A reader, who believed the ad implied Michelin tyres would always outperform budget alternatives, despite some budget versions having a higher braking performance rating than some made by Michelin, complained that the ad was misleading.
The ASA also investigated whether the ad was obviously identifiable as such.
Michelin said racing driver Ben Collins, who carried out the test, gave an unscripted explanation of his experience and "represented a genuine and honest expression of his opinion of the performance of the tyres".
The company added that the video and text did not attempt to imply that their tyres would always outperform budget tyres, and it would be unreasonable for anyone to extrapolate the results of the test more extensively.
Michelin added that the clear prominence of its logo, brand name and sponsorship of the featured Performance Driving Day and the advertorial clearly signified that the content was an ad.
The Telegraph said the navigational "crumb trail" above the article locating it within the website showed it was within the "sponsored" section, while the phrase "in association with Michelin", the Michelin logo on the right-hand side of the page and use of the word "sponsored" in the URL all showed it was as ad.
The ASA noted that Mr Collins began the video by stating, "I'm here ... to make a comparison between budget and premium tyres, to see if something more expensive can actually make you safer whilst you're driving."
It said: "We noted that the test was only shown in relation to one budget tyre, but that Michelin had provided no evidence to demonstrate that this was representative of budget tyres generally and that the results were consequently applicable to this group of products.
"We therefore concluded that the comparison had not been adequately substantiated and that the ad breached the Code."
The ASA also found that although the ad featured several references to sponsorship and the article being "in association with' Michelin", they were not enough to identify the content specifically as an ad.
It ruled that the ad must not appear again in the form complained about, adding: "We told Michelin to ensure that they held suitable substantiation for future comparative claims and that their ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications, including by using labels other than 'sponsored' or 'in association with' for advertorials and ad features."