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ASA Adjudication on Kingstown Associates Ltd

Kingstown Associates Ltd t/a Healthy Living Direct

Wadsworth Road
Kelleythorpe Industrial Estate
Driffield
East Yorkshire
YO25 9DJ

Date:

12 August 2009

Media:

Catalogue

Sector:

Health and beauty

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

91745

Ad

A catalogue, for Healthy Living Direct, selling health products and household devices, made various claims about the products.

Issue

A recipient challenged whether Healthy Living Direct could substantiate the claims for the listed products:

Copper Back Support:

1. "It can help to relieve ligament and joint pain";

Knee Strap:

2. "... to help relieve knee pain and stiffness.";

Stop Fungus:

3. "Effective and Safe Treatment For Fingers and Toes Stop Fungus is a very effective liquid that helps to eliminate fungus, discolouration and odour from fingers and toes ...";

Professional Mattress Cleaner:

4. "... you are guaranteed a bacteria-free, hygienically clean and fresh smelling, usable mattress ... " ;

Bunion Correctors:

5. "Correct Bunions Naturally";

Rheuma-Plex Spray:

6. This non-staining formula is a fast acting spray developed to relieve rheumatic and arthritic complaints such as painful and inflamed joints.  Providing pain relief for up to 24 hours ...";

Magnetic Back Brace:

7. "... help relieve pain and prevent strain";

Pain Eaze Spray:

8. Help Relieve Pain Effectively & Naturally Arthritic Pain Rheumatic Pain Back Ache Muscular Ache ... help provide fast, powerful and effective pain relief".

9. The recipient also challenged whether the claim for "The Painless Alternative To Surgery Correct Bunions Naturally" for the Bunion Correctors was misleading, because he understood surgery was required to remove bunions in adults.

The ASA challenged whether:

10. the picture for the Knee Strap, which showed magnets pointing at a knee joint, implied that the magnets in the product had a therapeutic effect; and

11. the picture for the Magnetic Back Brace, which showed magnets pointing at a back, implied that the magnets in the product had a therapeutic effect.

CAP Code (Edition 11)

Response

1. - 9. Kingstown Associates (Kingstown) said they purchased products on the strength of information provided by their suppliers and in most cases used the suppliers copy to promote the product.  They said they would now obtain further information from the suppliers and amend copy where necessary to ensure that any claims could be substantiated and, where they could not, the claim would be removed.

10. -11. Kingstown said they used the pictures of a magnet simply to inform customers that the magnets in the products were directed at the highlighted areas, rather than implying that they had a therapeutic effect.

Assessment

1. - 9.  Upheld

The ASA was concerned that Kingstown was unable to provide evidence to substantiate the claims and appeared to have relied on copy provided by their suppliers, rather than robust evidence, to show that the products worked as claimed.  We reminded them that the CAP Code required marketers to hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication.  Because Kingstown failed to provide substantiation, we considered that the claims had not been proven and were therefore misleading.

On points 1 to 9, the catalogue breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Medical and scientific claims).

10.- 11. Upheld

We noted the ad for the Knee Strap stated "WITH MAGNETS" and the ad for the Magnetic Back Brace stated "CONTAINS POWERFUL MAGNETS" and "... strategically placed sewn-in magnets".   We also noted each ad depicted magnets emitting lightning flashes to the wearer's knee and back.  We considered that some readers were likely to infer that the products had a therapeutic effect because they contained magnets.  Since we had not seen satisfactory scientific evidence to support that implication for either product, we concluded that the ads were misleading.  

On points 10 to 11, the catalogue breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Medical and scientific claims).

Action

The catalogue must not appear again in its current form.  We told Kingstown to ensure that they held documentary evidence to substantiate similar claims in future catalogues.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)

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