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.
Claims in product names
CAP considers that if an advertiser is unable to substantiate a claim, it is not normally acceptable for the product’s name to imply (either directly or indirectly) that same claim. Even if the ad contains no specific claims, if the ASA believes that readers might infer that the product can contribute to weight loss, the ASA or CAP will almost certainly ask the marketer to amend their ad if the weight loss claim is not supported by robust documentary evidence, most likely in the form of clinical trials.
Some marketers have tried to circumvent the Code’s requirements by placing ads whose content does not include any efficacy claims, but where the featured product or company name itself implies weight loss or fat loss. Past examples have included “Fat-magnet”, “Fat-Blocker”, “Fat Attack”, “Fat Trapper”, “Exercise in a Bottle”, “Metabolism” and “Tummy tuck sticks”.
It is not likely to be acceptable to qualify claims in product names with a disclaimer explaining that the implied weight control efficacy will not take place as this would likely be seen to contradict the impression given by the product name.
Claims in food product names
For foods, all product and brand names must comply with the Regulations and Section 15 of the Code. A health claim for a food should only be made if the claim is “authorised” and listed on the GB NHC Register (15.1). Similarly, nutrition claims are only permissible if they appear on the Nutrition claims section of the Register. Ads must conform with the conditions set out in the GB NHC Register for both health and nutrition claims.
If a product name states or implies a health or nutrition claim, it must be accompanied by a relevant authorised health or nutrition claim from the GB NHC Register. If there are no relevant authorised claims on the Register it could potentially mean the product name is making an unauthorised health claim.
Some exemptions for food products previously applied. For example, registered trademarks or brand names that existed before 1 January 2005 did not have to comply with this requirement until January 2022. (Vitabiotics Ltd, 26 March 2014). However, because this period has passed, trademarked product names are now likely to be treated in the same way as non-trademarked product names. Marketers who previously relied on the exemption are advised to obtain legal advice on the use of the product name in advertising going forward.
Also see CAP Advice on Food: Health and Nutrition (General)