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Everest ad banned over solar claim

A television advert which showed solar panels being installed on Britain’s highest inn has been banned in its original form by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for potentially misleading viewers over how much hot water they could generate.

The advert for double glazing specialist Everest showed workers replacing the windows at the Tan Hill Inn on the Yorkshire Dales with A-rated energy efficient versions and engineers installing new solar panels.

But, the ASA was called in after a viewer complained about the presenter’s statement that the panels “will generate the pub’s hot water for years to come”.

The advert has now had to be amended so it can continue to be shown.

The viewer argued the original advert was misleading as it implied solar panels provide all of a property’s hot water, whereas the advertiser’s website stated they provided between 50 and 70 per cent and had to be complemented by other measures.

An ASA statement said: “The ASA acknowledged that Everest had intended the claim to refer to the longevity of the solar panels, rather than the volume of hot water generated, and that the claim in the ad did not state 'all' the water could be generated by the solar panels.

“However, the ASA noted the Everest website stated solar panels could provide 50 per cent and 70 per cent of hot water, which referred to the volume of water the solar panels might generate, whereas the ad claimed that the solar panels would ‘generate the pub's hot water for years to come’. 

“We considered some viewers might understand that Everest's claim that the new solar panels ‘will generate the pub's hot water for years to come’ referred to the volume of hot water generated, as well as the panels' longevity.  Because the claim was ambiguous, we considered the ad could mislead.”

The ASA has said the advert cannot be broadcast again in its present form.

A spokesman for Everest: 'Everest is disappointed that the ASA has upheld this complaint based on just one person's views. It was never Everest’s intention to mislead, as the ASA has pointed out.

'The wording was amended in July and the advertisement will continue to run.  Everest now explains in its advert that its solar panels will generate “lots of” the pub’s hot water for years to come.

'We have received nothing but positive responses from the vast majority of the public to our new advertising campaign, which has now been seen by millions of people.'

What Everest said - an extract from the ASA report:
'Everest Ltd (Everest) said they intended to communicate the durability and longevity of the solar panels, as opposed to the specific volume of hot water delivered and outlined that Everest solar panels had a life span of 10 years or more.  They said they did not intend to mislead viewers and pointed out they deliberately did not specify the amount of hot water which could be produced, nor refer to 'all' the water.  They felt viewers would understand that solar panels cannot provide all the hot water required by a property all the time.  They said they considered it reasonable to assume that viewers would know that solar panels were powered by sunlight, that UK weather and the amount of sunlight on any given day were variable, and that there was not continuous 24-hour daylight.  On this basis, they considered that viewers would not assume the solar panels installed at the pub might provide all the hot water for the pub, because this would be an assumption which defied common sense.  They said the claim on the website that Everest solar panels supplied between 50% and 70% of a property's yearly hot water requirements was a statistic from an independent body and related to the average amount of hot water that standard solar panels might reasonably be expected to produce for an average household over a whole year.  Everest said they expected their solar panels to perform better than this, but did not make that claim.'