A radio advertisement for The Wellness Champion stated:
“Are you sitting down right now? At a desk or at the wheel? Sitting for too long could be damaging to your health. Our doctors can visit your workplace free of charge to teach you how good posture can improve your physical and mental health. To book your local Wellness Champions doctor, contact us through Facebook at the Wellness Champions Cork.”
The complainant considered that the reference to ‘doctors’ was misleading as the doctors were chiropractic practitioners. He also considered that the impression from the advertising was that advice on health and back care being offered was from a medical doctor.
The advertiser said that they had been running the advertisements for over a year with nothing but positive feedback from the companies that book their services. They said that it was never their intention to mislead anyone by using the word doctor and that the complainant was correct in the fact that the advertising did not specify that they were a doctor of chiropractic and not a medical doctor. They said that they were a doctor and were therefore entitled to use it in their marketing. They also referred to the fact that there were a lot of different types of doctors in healthcare and they felt that it was naive to think that they must all be a medical practitioner as a doctorate could be studied in numerous health fields such as acupuncture, reflexology and homeopathy and each of these professionals were legally entitled to use the title of doctor once the relevant studies were completed.
They said that after receiving this complaint they contacted a number of medical doctors that they treat and asked them what they call themselves and they said that they were GP’s, therefore, even medical doctors did not use the term to describe what they do.
They said that the advertisement had not mentioned anything about advice on back care but had specifically mentioned that they were teaching how good posture could improve your physical and mental health. They said that they offered a free service, teaching about health on various topics from stress management, women’s health and the effects of posture on health and wellbeing. They also said that it was an advertisement for The Wellness Champions and was not representing one person. Once a listener contacts them they are provided with links to their Facebook page and website, thereby given an opportunity to research them before booking their free service and that a full biography of them is provided which clearly calls out that they are a doctor of chiropractic. They said that they have never had a complaint about not being medical doctors from anyone who has used, or was looking to use, their service. They said that if a person had an issue with them not being medical doctors then they could choose to not avail of their services. They said that they were fully qualified, insured and experts in the topics they speak about.
The advertiser provided a copy of radio advertisement that they said aired around the time of the complaint that had stated that they were comprised of doctors and health experts and they considered that this had cleared up any ambiguity that their international group was not solely made up of doctors.
The Executive was in contact with the radio station in order to clarify which version of the radio advertisement had aired at the time of the complaint. After consulting their ‘live’ play they confirmed that the advertisement referred to by the complainant was the one that aired.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the advertisers’ comments in relation to healthcare qualification and titles, including “Doctor of Chiropractic”. They considered, however, that the common understanding of ‘doctors’ when used in conjunction with physical or mental health was that of a medical doctor. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 4.1, and 4.4 of the Code.
ACTION REQUIRED: The advertisement should not appear in its current form again.