ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Dune Hypnotherapy Group
Dune Hypnotherapy Group
175-177 Borough High Street
5 November 2003
Health and beauty
Transpersonal Excellence objected to a leaflet for a smoking cessation clinic. The leaflet stated "STOP SMOKING in one hour with a new proven hypnosis technique giving a 95% SUCCESS RATE Give us one hour of your time and leave us as a non smoker ...". The complainants:
1. challenged the claim "95% success rate" and
2. objected that the advertisement did not make clear the role of willpower when giving up smoking.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Complaint upheld
The advertisers said they used a hypnotherapy method developed by Practice Builders; they also used their marketing techniques. They said the claim referred to the success rate of the Practice Builders method and their follow-up material made that clear. They sent statistics that showed the number of clients they had seen from the beginning of the year and the proportion of those clients who had returned for a back-up session; they explained that because they offered free back-up sessions, they assumed that clients who did not stop smoking would return and that therefore, the treatment was successful for clients who did not contact them again.
The Authority noted the advertisers used a technique developed by Practice Builders. It considered, however, that the advertisement did not make clear that the advertisers used a method developed by someone else but that readers could infer that the claim "95% success rate" referred to the advertisers'' own success rate. It considered that statistics that showed the proportion of clients who had returned for a back-up session did not substantiate their claim because clients who started smoking again might not return for a back up session. The Authority noted a study, prepared for Practice Builders and reviewed by the American Board of Hypnotherapy had reported that 95% of people treated using the Practice Builders method had stopped smoking after a single one-hour session. It noted, however, that the success rate was measured using telephone interviews and the study itself stated that establishing success rates using telephone interviews was less reliable than using biochemical data, such as blood tests, and that some studies had stated that respondents to telephone surveys lied to researchers. It asked Practice Builders for further information about the study''s methodology but was told that Practice Builders had stopped trading. The Authority considered that, notwithstanding the endorsement from the American Board of Hypnotherapy, the study did not prove the claim "95% success rate". Because the advertisers did not show that they had a 95% success rate and the study prepared for Practice Builders did not prove the success of the technique, the Authority concluded that the advertisement was misleading.
2. Complaint upheld
The advertisers said they established their clients'' motives for stopping smoking and told their clients that they could help only those who were motivated to stop smoking. The Authority noted the advertisement did not refer to willpower or motivation for stopping smoking. It concluded the advertisement did not make clear the role of willpower in stopping smoking and told the advertisers to make that clear in future advertisements.
The Authority told the advertisers to change the advertisement and advised them to seek help from the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team before advertising again.