The advertising in regional press referred to the following:
“Gastric Band Hypnosis
IMAGINE LOSING 2 STONE IN ONLY 8 WKS!
International Star Hypnotist Justin Dreamz.
FREE back up programme included for smoking & weight loss
TAKES 1 SESSION
NO WEIGHT GAIN, CRAVINGS OR SRESS!”
The advertiser also included a testimonial which he referred to as “Michelle’s Testimonial.” The testimonial also featured before and after weight loss photographs and referred to the following:
“Letterkenny Lady Loses 6 Stone!
I was a mum of 3 kids. All my life I had battled with my weight. I remember being bullied at school because of it which made me eat all the more for comfort. About 6 months ago I had reached a point in my life where I got onto the scales & it said 16 stone. I could have just curled up & died. I was just about to join my local slimming club for the tenth time when I noticed an article in the local paper for a hypnotist called Justin Dreamz. I kind of laughed at first. Then I started thinking maybe it could work. I made the call & found Justin to be so down to earth & professional. I decided to book. It only took 1 relaxing session lasting around 30 minutes. I also received & (sic) fantastic support CD. I noticed almost immediately that I was feeling fuller a lot faster when eating. The weight just started dropping off. I’m now 6 stone lighter & feel that finally I have taken back control of my weight. My self-confidence has gone through the roof. The session was fantastic value also. If anyone is looking serious, permanent weight loss & ask me how I did it I just give them Justin’s number. Thanks Justin.”
The following information was also provided by the advertiser:
“Justin Dreamz is Irelands No.1 hypnotist & has held clinics throughout the world. If
you’re looking help to shift the weight & have had enough of the diet clubs then The Justin Dreamz Hypnotherapy Clinic’s can help you get back on track. Call the Dublin office 086… or the Belfast office 079… today for more info on this powerful weight loss system! Please visit the website for client videos & t&c’s.
The complainant queried the validity of the claims made by the advertiser. He asked if the advertiser could substantiate the claim that with “Gastric Band Hypnosis” a person could lose two stone in only eight weeks. He also asked if the advertiser had any substantiation at all for the claim that “Gastric Band Hypnosis” actually worked.
The complainant also queried if the testimonial featured was genuine. He said that he had seen the exact same testimonial used previously by the advertiser, except the person’s name was different.
The complainant said that as a person who had struggled with weight loss all his life he considered it to be important that claims such as those made by the advertisers could be proven, verified and substantiated.
The advertiser forwarded various testimonials in relation to weight loss achieved by his clients. He referenced each client by their first name only as he said he could not breach their privacy. He also forwarded an amended copy of the advertising in question for approval. The amended copy did not make reference to any specific weight loss which could be achieved.
The Secretariat informed the advertiser that the Code required that he should have sufficient substantiation for any claims made in his advertising. They also informed him that he should have signed and dated proof for any testimonials used and that these should be made available to the Authority on request.
In response the advertiser said that his clients were entitled to privacy and anonymity and hence he would not be disclosing their identity. He also said that his advertisement had invited consumers to visit his website where full terms and conditions in relation to his offers would be made available to them. Finally the advertiser said that he did not claim or guarantee any outcome in his advertising. He said that he was a hypnotherapist and his profession involved “helping” clients where medical or other intervention had not worked. He always advised any client on medication to continue its use unless advised otherwise by their medical doctor.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and advertisers’ communications and response to the complaint. They considered that the advertiser had not provided substantiation for the claims made in his advertising. They also noted that the advertiser had not provided verification for the testimonial used and reminded them that any claims made in relation to weight loss should be compatible with good medical advice and nutritional practice. In the circumstances they upheld the complaint under Sections 2.9, 2.36, 2.37, 2.38, 2.39, 8.1, 9.1 and 9.10 of the Code.
The advertisement should not be used in its current form again.