ASA Adjudication on Dynevor Ltd
Dynevor Ltd t/a
Needham & James House
Stratford upon Avon
16 December 2009
Internet (sponsored search)
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A Google sponsored link for The Dore Programme stated "The DORE Programme ... Need help with Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia or Asperger's?"
The complainant challenged whether the claim that the programme could help to treat the named conditions was misleading and could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Dynevor Ltd (Dynevor) said the ad only asked if help were needed and did not state that the DORE programme itself treated the named conditions. They argued that the term "help" did not necessarily imply treatment and could refer to other forms of assistance, such as giving advice on appropriate treatments or interventions, helping to improve some, but not all aspects of the condition, and helping with the use of aids or devices. Dynevor said they did not believe the ad claimed to provide treatment for the named conditions, and could not therefore be considered to be misleading. Nevertheless, they said the DORE programme could treat the named conditions and provided two studies in support.
The ASA noted Dynevor's interpretation of the ad. We considered, however, in the absence of any qualifying text to the contrary, that consumers were likely to understand the claim "Need help with Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia or Asperger's?" to mean that the DORE programme could help treat the named conditions. We also considered that we would need to see robust, scientific evidence to support the claim.
We noted that the two studies provided by Dynevor assessed the effect of the exercise-based DORE programme on children with reading difficulties and children and adults with ADHD respectively.
We noted that the first study, consisting of an initial study and follow-up study, concluded that there was a long-lasting performance improvement in the children. However, only a minority of those children had a formal diagnosis of dyslexia and non-diagnosed children were included. We were concerned that the improvements cited may have resulted from the non-diagnosed children. We noted that a control group was used in the initial study, with children receiving no treatment, but also that there were differences in the initial levels of skill between the two groups, which could have accounted for the improvement. We further noted that the follow-up study lacked a control group, as the original control group of children had also been given treatment in the intervening period between the two studies.
Given that neither the initial study nor the follow-up study was controlled for a placebo effect, we considered that it was not possible to determine whether any reported improvements resulted from the DORE programme itself, or were a consequence of other factors, such as the development of the children over time or the results of other support they may have been receiving at school and at home.
We noted that the second, unpublished study also showed an improvement, although the study concluded that the findings were preliminary and further work was needed. Again, this study was not controlled for a placebo effect and we therefore had the same concerns about this study as mentioned above.
As neither the first nor second study referred to Asperger's syndrome and only two participants in the first study had dyspraxia, we considered that the evidence was inadequate to support claims to treat those conditions. With regards to dyslexia and ADHD, we did not consider that the studies were sufficiently robust to support the treatment claims for those conditions, and we therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)