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Product: Health (Fertility Treatment)
Advertiser: Sims IVF Cork
Medium: Online (3rd party)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.31, 4.32, 4.33
Banner advertising on a third-party mail provider website for Sims IVF clinics stated:
Advert 1 – Ad in the inbox of a web-based email provider. Full text of advert is not shown.
“SIMS IVF. Ireland’s No.1 IVF Clinic. Ireland’s leading fertility clinic with …”
Advert 2 – Full text shown on opening the advert in inbox:
“SIMS IVF. Ireland’s No. 1 IVF Clinic.
Ireland’s leading fertility clinic with consistently high success rates. Speak to our specialists today to find out about your fertility options. Learn More.”
Beacon Care Fertility considered that the clam “Ireland’s No. 1 IVF Clinic” was misleading and questioned what criteria was used for the basis of the claim.
The advertisers stated that they were established in 1997 and have been at the forefront of reproductive medicine and reproductive technology in Ireland for 24 years. They said that they were the largest fertility clinic in Ireland and had treated thousands of patients to realise their dream of successfully achieving pregnancy and had also helped pioneer IVF technology in Ireland.
The advertisers sated that they joined with Hari Clinic/Rotunda IVF in 2014 and they became part of the Virtus Health Family in 2014. As part of Virtus Health Family, they said that they share experience and knowledge from around the world ensuring access to the very best reproductive medical care for patients.
They said that they had three fully operational fertility clinics that offered comprehensive fertility testing as well as a complete range of fertility treatments to maximise the chance of achieving pregnancy. They said that they also had a satellite clinic providing ultra-sound and blood testing facilities for patients and had the largest medical team of any other fertility clinic in Ireland, comprising of 11 full time doctors working in three clinics in addition to a large team of nurses, health care assistants, embryologists and support staff. They considered that they were the largest provider of fertility services in Ireland, with capacity to undertake the highest volume of IVF treatment cycles per year.
The advertisers said that they were the first fertility clinic in Ireland to introduce advanced fertility testing techniques, including sperm DNA fragmentation testing and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and that they were responsible for providing the first donor gamete in Ireland (using egg/sperm donors). They said that they were the first independent fertility clinic in Ireland to provide Intracytoplasmic Morphologically selected Sperm Injections (“IMSI”).
As further supporting evidence, the advertisers provided various media articles from various independent sources identifying Sims IVF as one of Ireland’s leading fertility clinics.
The advertisers advised that there was no benchmarking available for fertility clinics and stated that their position was evidence-based and they considered themselves to be the Number 1 clinic based on the facts at hand, which were: market share; the largest team of doctors, embryologists, medical and support staff employed across four (soon to be six) locations; and the fact that they have three fully operational clinics (completing full treatment cycles) with auxiliary services in other locations. They said that they catered for more patients than any other clinic in Ireland due to their extended capacity and staff availability and based on these facts, it was their firm belief that their advertisements were not misleading. They said that their advertisements advertised that they are leaders in fertility care in Ireland, which was based on the size of the market, their market share, their existing four clinics (ahead of opening the two new clinics), number of employees and capacity to care for patients.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted the requirements of Section 4.33 that wording which implies superior or superlative status such as “number one” and “leading” should be capable of substantiation with market share data or similar proof. The Committee noted the comments on market share, number of clinics and staff and their capacity to care for patients but that no comparative or independent data had been submitted in the matter. In addition, they considered it was not clear from the advertising on what basis the No 1 claim was made. In the circumstances, they considered that the claim had not been substantiated and was in breach of Code sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.33.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.