Regulator to investigate Tennant over ‘wonder water’

Posted on 25 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

The Advertising Standards Authority has agreed to investigate professional cleaning equipment manufacturer Tennant, following concerns that it has misled the industry.

The subject of the investigation is a series of adverts that suggest Tennant’s scrubber-driers, equipped with the contentious ec-H2O technology, can use electrolysis to break down normal tap water into acid and alkaline components that then act as a powerful cleaning agent, removing the need to buy floor cleaning detergent. Tennant also claims that the ec-H2O technology has proved its worth.

Kärcher, one of Tennant’s competitors, is responsible for asking the ASA to investigate. Kärcher has tested Tennant’s advertising claims both in-house and via an independent scientific laboratory at the well established MicroMol Research Institute. Both tests found that the claims made for the ec-H2O technology are untenable, based what the laws of physics allow.

According to Tennant, the company sold $96 million worth of scrubber-driers in 2010 signifying year-on-year sales growth of $50 million. It explicitly attributed this exceptional sales growth to successful marketing of ec-H2O technology.

Kärcher is not only pursing claims against Tennant in the UK – it has already filed lawsuits in both Germany and Belgium. As English law does not provide for civil law proceedings against misleading advertising in these circumstances, Kärcher has complained to the ASA which has confirmed it will investigate Tennant.

“The aim of Kärcher’s approach to the ASA is for an independent agency to check Tennant’s advertising claims for accuracy and for Tennant then to be banned from using misleading advertising for scrubber-driers with the ec-H2O technology. What Kärcher wants is to have it clarified that what the market is being told is entirely true.” Explains Simon Keeping, UK MD of Kärcher.

“This is especially important in the cleaning equipment industry because no standardised testing procedures have been established. With this action Kärcher is seeking confirmation of what is technically sound and correct.”