ISA-UK has been alerted to numerous online businesses selling LED products and referring to them as Neon. Such as, “design your own fully custom neon sign” when in fact the product is made from LED components. It is felt that this is confusing and misleading to consumers as well as being disingenuous to neon manufacturers. We asked these suppliers to make it much clearer in their advertising copy that the products were made from LEDs and had a ‘neon look’ and not refer to them as neon signs. We also asked that this explanation be made clearly and unambiguously and not hidden away in the deeper recesses of their website.

ISA-UK Director David Catanach said that “Having raised the issue with several of these online businesses, we reached a point where we required a ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority who have now responded to our call”.

Unfortunately, it is not exactly the response we were looking for and still creates an ambiguity if the consumer is not made fully aware that the LED neon look-a-like product is not a neon sign.

ASA rules are:

Advertising is considered to be misleading if it is likely to result in a decision, such as to seek out more information or make a purchase or donation, which consumers generally would not otherwise have made.

In the ASA response they say that “they note that all but two of the websites (highlighted by ISA-UK) clearly state that the lights are LED, and they all reference plastic tubing and therefore, we consider most consumers are likely to understand that the lights are cheaper LED based alternatives”.

ISA-UK begs to differ on the “clearly states” description of the websites and feels that a lot more can be done to resolve this.

David Catanach went on to say “Of course we have no issue with contemporary techniques and practices running alongside the more traditional aspects of sign making. We are not against progress, but we will do our best to stand against descriptions of products claiming to be one thing when clearly, they are not. It is the same if a sign company tried to pass of a printed design on vinyl as hand painted. We are simply asking that an LED sign not be described as a neon one”.

ISA-UK will continue to monitor the situation and would be interested to hear your views.