The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld three complaints about a newspaper advert for Easylife’s copper-infused face mask, which appeared in The Sun in June.
The advert described the product as “the mask that kills bacteria/viruses on contact”, adding that “the secret” behind the face mask was “pure copper fibres infused in the polyester/spandex fabric”.
In its ruling on Wednesday, the ASA said that consumers were “likely to understand” that the mask’s purpose was to prevent the wearer from infection by “instantaneously killing particles of COVID-19 that came into contact with it”.
“We considered the ad therefore presented the mask as an effective barrier which would protect the wearer from COVID-19 particles,” they added.
The regulator continued to say that while they understood copper had “known anti-microbial properties”, they had not seen evidence that Easylife’s mask was found to be effective at instantaneously killing COVID-19 particles, which the ad – they say – implied.
“Because we had not seen adequate evidence to substantiate that the Reusable Copper-Infused Face Mask would protect the wearer from infection with the COVID-19 virus by filtering airborne particles or that it would kill particles of COVID-19 with which it came into contact, we concluded that the ad was misleading,” they concluded.
In response to the investigator’s enquiries, Easylife Group Ltd said the ad had been amended by them since it was published.
However, their reply was not considered substantive by the ASA, who said they were concerned by the company’s “apparent disregard” for the code set by the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP).
The regulator went on to remind them of their duty to “provide a substantive response” and told them to do so going forward.
The ASA said the advert from Easylife must not appear again in the form complained about, and that they had informed the firm that they should not “state or imply” that their Reusable Copper-Infused Face Mask “was likely to protect the wearer from airborne infections” such as the coronavirus without “sufficient evidence” to prove it has met PPE standards.
“We also told them not to state or imply that the copper fibres in the product would instantaneously kill particles of COVID-19 that came into contact with it, without sufficient evidence,” they said.