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Product: Health & Beauty
Advertiser: BTL Industries Ireland Ltd
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 11.1, 11.5, 11.7(a), 11.7(b), 12.4
A press advertisement for a treatment for fat reduction and muscle building called EMSCULPT NEO featured the image of a woman with very defined muscles on her torso.
The advertisement stated:
The One in body shaping
30 min procedure.
Less Fat. Muscle More”
The footnote included the following statements:
“Results and patient experience may vary.”
“In the EU, EMSCULPT NEO is intended for the treatment of obesity by fat reduction through neuromuscular stimulation, radiofrequency-induced lipolysis and increase of blood flow.”
Two complaints were received regarding the advertisement raising the following issues:
A complainant considered that the image of the woman in the advertisement was unrealistic and could be misleading to someone young or vulnerable. They considered that the image was of a person who regularly worked out and was not the result that most people could expect from this treatment.
A complainant noted that the footnote had stated that the procedure was for the treatment of obesity. They considered that the advertising was misleading as it implied that an obese person could achieve a muscular stomach after one or more 30-minute procedures.
A complainant objected to the size and colour of the footnote as they considered the print size was too small to read and also noted that it was in a pale blue colour.
The advertiser responded to the issues raised by the complainants.
The advertisers said that the picture was chosen as they considered it to be relative to the typical patient who was interested in the treatment. They said that the advertisement had clearly stated the noted reduction of fat percentage and the potential percentage increase of muscle. They said that it was up to the reader to further explore the treatment to see if it would be suitable for their needs or not. They said that the advertisement had also included the names of the clinics where the treatment was available, who would guide a patient further on their suitability for the treatment.
The advertisers said that the EMSCULPT NEO was a 30-minute procedure that could be repeated to achieve the treatment results. They noted the complainant’s feedback and stated that the advertisement could be amended in the future. They said that the information had been contained in the footnote so as not to exclude any potential persons to the treatment. They also said that the advertisement had highlighted their medical locations where any potential patient could book in for a medical consultation and guidance would be provided and expectations managed regarding their potential end result, which was relative to every individual person.
No comment was received in regard to the size and colour of the footnote.
The advertisers stated that they would cooperate with further correspondence with the ASAI Code.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1: Complaint Upheld
The Committee noted that the image used in the advertisement had featured a woman with defined muscles on her torso and that the image had been used to represent the typical patient interested in the treatment. The Committee noted that while the advertisement had included “Less Fat Muscle More” it had not referred to a percentage reduction of fat or a percentage increase in muscle. The Committee considered that the use of the image, together with the wording could create an impression that any user of the treatment could achieve the results featured. As evidence had not been provided to substantiate this impression, the Committee considered that the advertisement was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.1, 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code.
Issue 2: Upheld
The Committee noted that the advertisement had referred to the treatment as being a 30-minute procedure and that the procedure could be repeated to achieve results. The Committee also noted that the advertisement had stated in the footnote that the procedure was intended for the treatment of obesity. The Committee welcomed the advertisers’ offer to amend the advertisement in regard to the treatment being repeated, however, they considered that the impression created by the advertisement was that the results shown could be achieved by patients, including patients with obesity. In the absence of substantiation that the results could be achieved by patients with obesity, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 11.1 of the Code.
Issue 3: Complaint Upheld
The Committee noted that the advertisers had not addressed this aspect of the complaint.
The Committee noted the requirements of the Code that footnoted information should be of sufficient size and/or prominence and should be located and presented in such a manner as to be clearly and easily legible. The Committee considered that the size and colour of the font had not been of sufficient size or prominence and in the circumstances, considered that the advertisement was in breach of Section 4.6 of the Code.
The advertising must not appear in its current form again.
The Committee noted that the advertisers had offered to make amendments to the advertisement.