Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Medicinal or medical claims can only be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA (Rule 12.1). Prescription-only medicines may not be advertised to the public (Rule 12.12). Additionally, medical professionals and celebrities should not be used in ads to endorse medicines (12.18).
Be careful with your casting
Endorsements by health professionals could be viewed by the public and the ASA as giving undue appeal to one product over another or as an exploitation of the credulity of the audience.
In 2012 the ASA upheld a complaint about an ad promoting spa treatments which stated "Facial Rejuvenation Clinic - Botox Treatments". Further text stated "Available now at our Clapham Branch in London. Dr. Natalia (Natty) Burgess BDS is a qualified Dental Surgeon…Natty is specially qualified in facial injection rejuvenation treatments and loves seeing the renewed confidence that people gain from the results”. The ASA considered the overall impression of the ad was such that it was likely to be interpreted as suggesting a qualified dental professional endorsed treatment using the POM and concluded the ad breached the Code (Anesis Spa, 11 July 2012).
Marketers should be careful when using health professionals to advertise products, especially if that endorsement is not product-specific. Although health professionals may be associated with cosmetic products, marketers should not imply that health professionals endorse a range of products if some of the products in that range are medicines (Colgate Palmolive (UK) Ltd, 17 January 2007, and GlaxoSmithKline UK Ltd, 14 March 2007).
Don’t exaggerate an individual’s involvement
Some marketers are tempted to add credibility to their product simply by stating or implying that it was discovered by, developed in conjunction with or endorsed by health professionals. Although many respectable marketers have nutritionists or dermatologists as part of their research and product development team, marketers should be careful not to over-claim and imply endorsement by health professionals or the medical fraternity generally.
See ‘Official Endorsements’.
Last updated: 27 October 2016