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Geogrid firm Tensar breaches advertising standards

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today upheld a challenge made by Naue Geosynthetics against competitor Tensar International that questioned claims published in its brochure about TriAx geogrids.

The brochure - entitled TriAx: A Revolution in Geogrid Technology - outlined the properties and performance advantages of Tensar TriAx geogrids. It said “Tensar International has almost 30 years of experience in analysing and optimising the performance of geogrids. Drawing on this technical knowledge and expertise, Tensar has radically re-engineered the fundamental structure of geogrids to create a revolutionary new product. The TriAx geogrid is the culmination of this research and represents the future of geogrid technology, using one of the most stable forms - the triangular structure.”

The brochure added that “research evolved into a revolutionary change from a rectangular to a triangular grid aperture…A series of rigorous tests followed comparing the functional performance of TriAx with Tensar biaxial grids. These tests confirmed the research effort and demonstrated that TriAx out-performed the best performing biaxial geogrids.”

The ASA took expert advice from a qualified civil and structural engineer to assess Naue’s challenges. They were asked to decide whether:

  1. Tesnar’s claims that “these tests … demonstrated that TriAx outperformed the best performing biaxial geogrids”, and that the product was “scientifically proven to functionally outperform biaxial geogrids” could be substantiated.
  2. Whether the comparison made in the advertisement was verifiable.

The ASA upheld both points. It said that although it acknowledged Tensar test reports came from reputable sources it had not seen robust evidence to justify the first point. The advert therefore breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 18.1 and 18.3 (Comparisons with identified competitors).

On the second issue it said it acknowledged Naue’s point that Naue and Colbond were the main competitors in the UK in the biaxial geogrid market. The advert therefore identified by implication Naue products to the intended audience for Tensar’s brochure of qualified civil and geotechnical engineers.

The ruling by the ASA means the advert must not appear again in its current form.

“We accept the ASA’s judgement,” said Tensar vice president for global marketing Tim Oliver. “We made a statement that could have been interpreted as saying that TriAx outperforms all biaxial geogrids. The ASA is not saying that the data we provided on TriAx is incorrect and while we think we can substantiate the claim, we take on board that we can’t without side by side testing.”

“Let’s not forget that we spend tens of thousands of pounds on each of our tests. We would like to see our competitors do the same and invest heavily in large-scale performance testing to provide information that allows our customers to specify with confidence.”

Naue said it welcomed the result. “The ASA has agreed with us that the claims made by Tensar might have adversely reflected on our product range, and we were keen to put the record straight,” said its UK managing director Chris Quirk. “We stand by the scientific research carried out on our product range, and feel that engineers can rest assured that the Naue range will live up to all expectations.”


Readers' comments (1)

  • This adjudication by the ASA has highlighted some important considerations for organisations intending to use comparative advertising, in particular, the requirement to include ‘signposts’ within the advertisement, directing the reader to the source of comparative data.

    If you would like to see the full ASA adjudication, you can find it here.

    For further information you may want to read at this item on the Tensar International website

    Tim Oliver
    VP for Global Marketing
    Tensar International

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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