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Product: Health & Beauty
Medium: Online (Company website and Third-Party Website)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.3, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.17, 11.1, 11.5
The Testimonials page of the advertisers’ own website included a list of various illnesses with a testimonial under each.
Under the Tinnitus heading it stated:
[advertiser’s name], I salute you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for practically eliminating completely the chronic tinnitus I have been enduring for a very long time. To my amazement you managed to achieve this result while both of us were thousands of miles apart, you in Canada and me in Ireland. I really don’t know or understand how you managed to do this but all I do know is that since you carried out the second correction on me 12 months ago, I have been virtually tinnitus free. Thank you so much for returning the quality to my life."
Hello, my name is [XXX]
I'd like to share my story with you about how [advertiser] and his work helped me overcome a problem that I was told was not possible to overcome. I was diagnosed with Oesophageal cancer in 2013 with a tumour growing through my trachea that was progressively getting bigger……
[advertiser] visited me at my home one morning on the request of a friend of mine and to be honest I was sceptical of whether he could help me at all. The first thing [advertiser] asked me to do was to leave judgement and ego outside and only bring an open mind and an open heart, so I did. He was able to tell me about things that I thought I had coped with but hadn't at all. As he said, 'coping is not good enough, we need to process these emotions' meaning I needed to get them out of my body for good. Everything he spoke about made perfect sense and after an hour I really knew and could feel what was causing my ill health.
After about 4 weeks I felt so much more positive, my brain was engaged again, the awful fear was gone, my appetite is now a genuine one, an appetite for proper food and enjoyment of it. The depression has lifted from me and I feel as if I have been given my life back. After 2 months the tumour has reduced and reduced and is now gone and my speech has improved a lot.
[advertiser] gave me my hope back, he helped me find myself and now I once again believe and feel that I can get well. I no longer have any fear of disease and this is the important message in all of this. If you believe you can get better and remove the fear which keeps you stuck in that awful place you can achieve anything. I now know that I need to keep to this routine of healthy living, from food to exercise and most importantly to my thoughts. I cannot properly verbalise all I want to say, it’s not enough to say I feel better as it is much more than that. It is so good to feel energetic again, mentally and physically. I am very appreciative of all the help you have given me. Doctors can be very frightening people a lot of the time and I suppose it’s just their job to tell you what they see but it's what they cannot see, the fear and shock is what causes the real damage.
Thank you, [advertiser], for all your words of encouragement and for helping me find the hope that I had lost. With love. [name of testimonial author].
The advertiser also featured on a third-party website in which various practitioners advertised their services.
“The Hidden Mind
HiddenMind is a ground-breaking method of investigation through the power of the human mind of the hidden causes of symptoms and diseases. These are imbalances in our physical bodies and energy around us. The method does not seek to diagnose specific illnesses but rather to initiate a return to one’s natural optimum health. It is based on many years of investigation into ancient non-invasive healing techniques and the mind-body connection, the nature of illness, into how the body functions and its ability to heal itself.
[advertisers’ name] is a fully qualified practitioner and teacher of the Hidden Mind / Corrective Sound programme and Bio Energy therapy under [xxxx]. [advertiser] has also been trained in Touch for Health Kinesiology and Para medicine. His work takes him all over the world helping people that feel there is no hope and no answers, which I assure you there always is. The Hidden Mind programme can and has unlocked a fear and re-established a hope in many that are now happier in their quest for health and happiness. Understanding and dealing with the root cause of any condition is the KEY first step in overcoming it. (It is his belief that treating any issue without dealing with the primal vibrational frequency/emotion is like trying to fix a puncture without removing the thorn that caused it. Only until the thorn has been removed can the wound begin to heal)
For more information on the The Hidden Mind Corrective Sound Protocol – Contact [advertisers’ details].
Issue 1 - Advertisers’ website:
The complainant considered that the testimonials used in the advertising were making unsubstantiated and misleading claims to cure illnesses such as Tinnitus and Cancer.
Issue 2 – Third-Party website – The Hidden Mind Section:
The complainant considered that the section titled “The Hidden Mind”, which outlined the Hidden Mind method, was misleading.
Issue 1 – Advertisers’ own website:
The advertisers stated that they have not received any direct complaints from anyone. They said that the complainant was objecting to their old website that was no longer in existence and had been replaced prior to their receipt of the complaint.
In response to the issues raised by the complainant, the advertisers said that they had not claimed anywhere on their website that they cured incurable diseases. They said that this was further clarified by a disclaimer that was easily accessed at the bottom of every page of their website.
The advertisers said that the testimonials on their website were legitimate stories shared by clients with their full consent and understanding, outlining their own personal experience with his work. In regard to the testimonial from the patient with Tinnitus they said that this patient had said that their symptoms had been “practically eliminated completely” and nowhere had they stated that the patient’s tinnitus had been fully cured. They, therefore, considered that the complainant was inaccurate as to what was stated on their website. They also referred to the fact that the in the Tinnitus testimonial, the patient had said that they were “virtually tinnitus free” and not that they had been cured, which they considered further highlighted the inaccuracy of the complainant’s claim. They said that they fully understood and accepted that there was currently no known medical cure for Tinnitus and made no claim to the contrary.
The advertisers considered that the complainant was sharing their own opinion and that this was not an accurate account or representation of the information provided on the website. They stated that they had never claimed the ability to cure any disease of any kind and that all the information on their website was truthful and honest. Finally, the advertisers provided a list of their qualifications as support of the work that they do:
• National Qualification in Emergency Medical Technology – awarded by the Pre- Hospital Emergency Care Council of Ireland;
• European Diploma in Bio Energy Therapy – awarded by The European Institute of Bio Energy – Plexus HealthCare International Ltd.;
• Diploma in Hidden Mind Investigative and Corrective sound Programme – awarded by The Hidden Mind Institute; and
• Diploma in Hidden Mind Bio Energy Therapy – awarded by The Hidden Mind Institute.
Issue 2 – Third Party Website – The Hidden Mind Section:
The advertisers stated that the information regarding their association with The Hidden Mind was accurate as it outlined their qualifications as they had completed The Hidden Mind Corrective Sound Programme, which qualified them as a Hidden Mind practitioner. They considered that this further supported their qualification to treat people with this programme under the qualification issued to them by the Hidden Mind Institute. They said that the information advertised on the website was not part of their own website and that the information was outdated and that they had repeatedly requested its removal from that site, however, they have now been assured that it will be removed as soon as possible. The advertisers, however, were unsure what relevance this page had to the complaint, other than that it clarified their educational background and qualification to practice.
The Executive reviewed The Hidden Mind section of a Third Party’s website and noted that the content at The Hidden Mind section had not been amended.
The Executive also reviewed the advertisers’ website and noted that it had been amended, however, the testimonials referred to by the complainant were still available under the heading “Our Stories”.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 – Advertisers’ own website:
The Committee noted that the advertisers did not consider that any claims had been made on their website to cure incurable diseases. While the Committee noted that the website had been amended after the complainant had submitted their complaint, the testimonials objected to by the complainant were also published on the amended website. The Committee referred to Section 4.17 of the Code which stated that while testimonials did not constitute substantiation, the opinions expressed in them should be supported with independent evidence of their accuracy.
The Committee noted that the claims in the testimonials did not use the actual word ‘cure’. They considered however that the the claim in the Tinnitus testimonial “practically eliminating completely” and “virtually tinnitus free” implied a near cure for which substantiation had not been received. They noted the claim in the Cancer testimonial stated “the tumour has reduced and reduced and is now gone” strongly implied a cure had been affected for which substantiation had not been received.
In the absence of substantiation for the claims within the testimonials, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.17 and 11.1 of the Code.
Issue 2 – Third Party Website - The Hidden Mind Section:
The Committee noted that the Hidden Mind section contained efficacy claims for the practice for which substantiation had not been received. In the absence of substantiation, the Committee considered that the claims were in breach of Sections 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code.
The advertising should not reappear in its current form. The Committee told the advertisers to remove the claims contained within the testimonials that had not been substantiated.