Mitsubishi heat pump ad misled
The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint by Fujitsu that the marketing of its rival's Mitsubishi heat pumps was misleading.
Earlier this year Black Diamond Technologies (BDT) variously claimed its Mitsubishi Electric heat pumps were "the quietest" and heated more "effectively and quietly" than any other heat pumps in New Zealand in newspaper, billboard and radio advertisements.
But Fujitsu claimed that was misleading, as that suggested Mitsubishi heat pumps were quieter than all other models when there was no proof that was the case.
It said BDT was making the claim its models were quietest based on the noise of the indoor unit only, when the noise created by the exterior unit was just as important, and testing showed in many cases Mitsubishi outdoor units were noisier than other brands.
Fujitsu said BDT had also made that claim on the basis that just two of its models operated on low fan speeds - which Fuijtsu argued would be inadequate to heat a room - at a noise level lower than any other heat pump.
BDT said two of its models could operate effectively on low fan speeds at a noise level of 19 decibels.
"No other supplier in New Zealand can make that claim or claim that they have a quieter high wall heat pump."
Consumers would not expect the heat pumps to be the quietest in all modes, but also at quiet and low modes, BDT said.
BDT said it was unrealistic to expect it to compare its models with each and every model supplied in New Zealand and its claims were based on data from six suppliers accounting for 90 per cent of the market. It claimed its advertisements were only for its high wall mounted indoor units - not its outdoor units nor other types of heat pumps and that would have been understood by consumers.
But in its written decision upholding Fujitsu's complaint the ASA said that the noise made by the outdoor unit was important and BDT should have made it clear in the advertisements that its claims related to the indoor unit only.
In neglecting to do that the ads were "misleading and also likely to exploit consumers' lack of knowledge".
The ASA said BDT's claims implied the heat pumps would operate more quietly in any mode, which was not the case.
BDT's lowest noise rating of 19 decibels was only for two models operating in quiet and low modes, the panel noted, and in other examples other competitors' models were as quiet.
"Without a clear qualification that the claim only applied to two models operating at their lowest levels, consumers were likely to be misled and the advertisement was also likely to exploit their lack of knowledge."
BDT's claims of effectiveness were based on two models from its flagship Hypercore range, the ASA said, and it was misleading to imply the performance of those two models extended to models in its standard range.