The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority this week banned a number of misleading ads with unsubstantiated claims for health products. Its warning to advertisers: don’t make claims you can’t back up.
Zaggora, Boots, Health & Beauty Innovations and Vitabiotics were ordered to stop using misleading ads. The items concerned included menopause treatment, weight loss hot pants, pain relief patches and more. Search, social and website ads for sports retailer Zaggora’s weight loss hot pants made claims about the pants’ fat burning abilities. Some of the research was dubious. Its sample were sizes too small; its survey questions too limited in scope; and it lacked of peer reviews from research it had conducted itself.
Claims about the levels discounts offered on the product were also subject to complaints. The company was unable to provide historical data about its prices, or so it said. The complaints were upheld, ads banned and the company was told not to mislead in future.
Complaints about ads from Vitabiotics were also upheld by the ASA, resulting in its ads being banned. The ASA ruled that one ad mislead viewers about the efficacy of a vitamin product. Vague claims of a “leading British scientist” being involved in a product’s development is no real indicator of its health benefits, the ASA said.
It’s not uncommon for advertisers on either side of the pond to mislead, but the mechanism for complaints in the U.K. is peculiar. The ASA is a self-regulatory body funded by advertisers to deal with advertising complaints. As a non-statutory organization, its powers are limited; it cannot interpret or enforce legislation, but it can compel advertisers to take down misleading or offensive ads. Cases of this kind rarely end up in court.
About 80 percent of the ASA’s complaints are about misleading ads, rather than those that cause offense. It has been alleged that the practice of complaining to the ASA has been orchestrated between competitor brands and agencies, or by campaign groups hoping to drum up press coverage.
Though it’s a rare occurrence, recipients of regular complaints are subject to more scrutiny and tougher sanctions. Ryanair was referred to the Office of Fair Trading for its disregard for the rules. French Connection, which used its FCUK brand name in a of number inappropriate ways, eventually had its ads vetted by the ASA.
The Committees of Advertising Practice, the body administered by the Advertising Standards Authority which writes the UK Advertising Codes, recently tightened up its guidelines for another booming but controversial health category — e-cigarettes.
“We’ve moved quickly to put in place appropriate and clear regulation around e-cigarette advertising,” said Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP. “While the debate about e-cigarettes continues our commitment is to make sure they are advertised in a responsible way and that children are protected”.
Why a DTC jewelry company is placing its bets on organic growth via TikTok
As TikTok continues to grow in popularity, a jewelry startup is hoping to capitalize on its organic growth.
‘Harder to dispute’: Ebiquity CEO on why advertisers are slowing spending in the Google-Facebook duopoly
It’s deja vu all over again with this sort of rhetoric. This time, though, it's not just big brands that are apprehensive about putting more dollars into Google or Facebook. It's the smaller ones -- the ones that account for the bulk of cash spent on those ads.
Member ExclusiveMarketing Briefing: With pressure mounting on Q4, some marketers are planning to roll out holiday sales early
Marketers are rolling out holiday marketing and sales early as economic uncertainty persists and pressure builds for the fourth quarter.
SponsoredHow FIFA World Cup fans engage is changing and brands are paying attention
Emily Barfuss, Chief Marketing Officer, Tremor International At the root of every sport are two key characters: the athlete and the fan. The athletes may be the stars of the show, but without fans — without their energy, fervor, tangible support and wallets — sports matches and championships would all be very different games. From […]
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research: Who will gain and who will lose when (if?) the third-party cookie goes away?
There is endless speculation about what the world without third-party cookies will look like -- or even if it will ever come to be. Digiday asked publishers, agencies and brands about who they think will gain and who they think will lose following the death of the third-party cookie.
Why a sports betting company will brand the new train line to MetLife Stadium
As part of this effort, a variety of print and digital assets have been developed, as well as the official rebranding of all of the NJ Transit system's signage and advertising to accommodate the new rail line. A clear understanding of the financial agreement was not provided.