LG vacuum ad banned after Dyson complaint

By Matthew Henry

LONDON: An LG vacuum cleaner ad has been pulled off the air in the UK for misleading consumers about the effectiveness of its dust compression technology after rival Dyson complained to the UK’s advertising watchdog.

All three of Dyson’s complaints were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after an independent expert called in by the regulator agreed that the Korean giant’s Kompressor vacuum cleaner TV commercial was misleading.

“We told LG that the ad should not appear again in its present form,” said the ASA in concluding its adjudication.

LG’s commercial depicts several bagless vacuum cleaner owners confronted with a dust cloud when emptying their canisters, followed by an LG Kompressor owner emptying two bricks of compressed dust into a bin, with no hint of a dust cloud.

The feat is attributed to LG’s electronic dust compression system.

A voice-over tagline in the commercial declares, “Compress your dust, compress your worries. The LG Kompressor”.

The ASA ruled the TV commercial was in breach of UK standards in three ways: (1) the tagline ‘compress your dust’ was misleading because the appliance’s compression system only compacted large material such as fluff, while fine dust was stored in another chamber altogether; (2) the ad misleadingly implied that collected dust was compressed into a solid mass, but the fine dust chamber was not shown in the ad; and, (3) the ad was potentially denigrating to competitors’ products because it implied they produced a larger dust cloud than the LG Kompressor.

In a statement to the media, Dyson lambasted its Korean floorcare rival.

Dyson claimed that because fine dust is not compacted in the Kompressor’s main chamber but stored in a separate compartment, dust was actually more susceptible to dispersion when emptied and therefore more likely to create a dust cloud than other bagless machines.

“Our engineers focus on developing and testing Dyson technology, but we do keep half an eye on competitors,” said Dyson UK group marketing director, Clare Mullin.

“We’ve come to expect lazy innovation masked behind misleading marketing, and this seems to be what we have here from LG. The Kompressor only produces loose clumps of dirt rather than dust blocks, and there is no mention of the second chamber that lets dust escape when emptied. The ASA’s ruling is no surprise."

The ASA took objection to LG’s use of the word ‘dust’ to refer generally to all matter picked up by a vacuum during normal use.

“Although we acknowledged that, in some circumstances, it might be reasonable to refer to all the matter contained in the vacuum’s main chamber as ‘dust’… viewers were likely to interpret the claim ‘compress your dust’ as a reference to fine particulate matter,” said the ASA in its assessment.

In a record of the ASA’s adjudication attained by Current.com.au, LG Electronics admits that fine dust could not be compressed substantially given the size of the particles, but said the amount of fine dust in the outer chambers was insubstantial in weight and volume compared to the dust in the main chamber.

LG Electronics Australia, which also claims the Kompressor vacuum available locally compresses ‘dust’, denied the ASA’s rulings had any relevance to the Australian market.

“The television commercial in question is European and not currently running in the Australian market,” said LG Electronics Australia general manager – marketing, Paul Jenkins, in a written statement.

“There are no plans at this stage to run the advertisement locally. This is an international claim that LG Electronics Australia can not comment on.”

Current.com.au has sent LG Electronics further questions regarding its advertising practices in Australia, but has not yet received the company’s response.

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