The television advertising for Toyota featured a man placing logs in the back of his Toyota Hilux. The truck is then seen rolling down a hill as the man shouts:
“I forgot the handbrake.”
The truck then rolls over the side of a cliff and into the sea. The man is then featured going through life, all the time thinking of or looking at pictures of his lost truck. The scenes are accompanied by the song “Tell me have you seen her?” playing in the background. In the final scene the man is featured walking on a beach, his truck suddenly comes in to view having been washed up on the sand. The man opens the driver’s door, water gushes out, he then gets into the vehicle and drives away. The male voiceover states:
“Hardly surprising that Toyota has the best resale value of any car brand in Ireland.”
The on-screen text stated:
“Source: Cartell.ie 2013. Based on 3 year resale value.”
Owens DDB objected on behalf of their client Volkswagen Ireland in relation to the claim that “Toyota has the best resale value of any car brand in Ireland”. They believed the claim to be based on selected models with limited mileage in certain segments of the market. The survey/report involved was compiled by Cartell who had been commissioned by Toyota to carry out the work, the results of which were then only released to Toyota.
They also said that their understanding was that the report was a few months old, when the claim was used, and that the data would most likely change if the report was processed again. They considered that claims such as those used by the advertisers should be based on durable data over a period of time that was kept up to date and available for inspection.
In response, Javelin Advertising, the agency for the advertisers, said the best re-sale claim was based on (1) a reputation for reliability and class leading residual values and (2) research that was completed by Cartell in the Republic of Ireland.
Javelin said that Cartell was Ireland’s No. 1 car history check and was launched in May 2006 to help consumers and dealers make an informed and secure choice when purchasing a used vehicle. As such they had access to more car data than anyone else and through thorough investigation had helped thousands of people avoid purchasing problematic cars
Javelin said the study which formed the basis of the advertising claim in question was commissioned to look at Residual Value Performance, of widely sold cars (across all main segments) at 3 years of age (the point at which cars are traditionally traded in) in the Republic of Ireland. While the initial report was generated in July 2013, it was updated in January 2014, when a full report was generated using the latest figures to hand from both Carzone.ie, Autotrader.ie and Adverts.ie, in relation to cars that were between 2.5 and 4.5 years old. They said that given that the used cars were individually unique, prices were mathematically normalised to a value representative of 50,000km for 2011 cars. This value, they said, had been chosen as the accepted annual car mileage in Ireland was around 16,000kms per year. They pointed out Toyota’s residual performance was measured in the categories assigned by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) and shown for both petrol and diesel.
The report analysed six segments, comprising nine sub-segments, of the market and the models selected were the top selling models within each segment. Where practical the most popular models in the market were chosen in order to achieve valid results. The limitations imposed by the Irish market, however, caused them to focus on manual vehicles, as sufficient automatic cars were not available. Some notionally competitive cars were not present in the market, or were present in relatively low numbers. The report analysed the percentage of sales within each segment.
The results 2014
The results indicated that Toyota cars performed exceptionally well for 2011 cars. In the nine market sub-segments studied, Toyota achieved seven best in class positions. Javelin said that this study, as indicated above, indicated that Toyota had the best overall performance of any individual car brand in the market place.
The Secretariat then asked the advertisers to provide them with further detailed information in relation to the following:
• The study the claim was based on.
• Information on the National Mileage Register (NMR) and how mileage readings were captured.
• Which car models (that were ‘notionally competitive’) were not included in the study.
• Which car models were covered for each of the six segments.
• Details on where/why it was not practical to include some models.
The advertisers provided the information requested on a confidential basis.
Further information Complainants:
Owens DDB on behalf of Volkswagen forwarded a study on car resale conducted by MotorCheck, which they considered through ongoing analysis to provide the most credible and robust study.
At this point the Secretariat obtained the advice of an independent expert in the field of research to examine the data provided by both Toyota and Volkswagen. She posed questions to both agencies acting on behalf of Toyota and Volkswagen in relation to various elements of the studies provided, including how the car models were selected, how resale values were calculated and the sample sizes used.
Both agencies responded on a confidential basis to the further queries posed.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and all information provided.
The Committee noted that the expert opinion concluded that the Cartell methodology was comprehensive and statistically robust for calculating resale values.
They noted that the advertisers initially examined “all main segments” and that some segments had been excluded from the study as there were insufficient numbers of cars sold to determine a resale value. Although the study showed that they had the best resale values in seven out of the nine sub-segments they examined, when mapped to the SIMI(1) segments, this equated to four out of six segments examined, with three segments not examined (so in four out of nine segments, Toyota had better resale values than other models in the study).
The Committee noted that the study was at a particular point in time and that the advertisers had included the year 2013 to reference this.
Whilst accepting that the study showed that Toyota had the best overall resale value of any brand, they were concerned that as the current claim was an absolute claim for the brand, consumers could understand that any model in the Toyota range would have the best resale value when compared to an equivalent model of another brand. They noted that the purchase of a new car was a significant decision for consumers, but without a qualification in the headline claim, they considered that the claim was in breach of section 2.24 of the Code.
(1) Society of the Irish Motor Industry
The absolute claim must not be used again in its current format unless it is appropriately qualified.