The Copy Advice team receives regular enquiries from practitioners of complementary therapies who are looking to ensure their ads comply with the Code. Here we explain the common pitfalls that advertisers run into and help you find the right answers quickly and easily.

CAP has produced a Help Note on health, beauty and slimming claims to help the industry produce marketing communications that comply with the Code. The Help Note classifies ailments as either those that can be acceptably referred to in marketing communications targeted at the general public or those that cannot be referred to because they are considered too serious to be diagnosed or treated without the relevant medical supervision.

For more information, see our Help Note.

Referencing medical conditions
Some practitioners would like to list conditions that they believe their therapies can treat. Whilst this is likely to be acceptable for sensory claims, the Code contains specific rules that restrict the types of claims marketers other than qualified health professionals may make.

Examples of ailments that may be referred to in marketing communications (subject to being able to prove the efficacy of the therapy) include: aches and pains, trouble sleeping, smoking cessation and reducing every day stress. Examples of ailments that cannot usually be referred to in marketing communications include: arthritis, depression, diabetes, infertility and impotence (Rule 12.2). The lists are not exhaustive and are updated in line with ASA adjudications and prevailing medical opinion.

For more information, see our advice on referencing medical conditions.

Many practitioners find testimonials to be the best way of conveying the benefits of a particular therapy or the service they provide and it is perfectly acceptable to use testimonials in advertising. However, testimonials that are likely to be interpreted as factual shouldn’t mislead the consumer and advertisers shouldn’t use them to make claims they would otherwise be unable to make. Practitioners should be aware that testimonials alone don’t constitute substantiation. Finally, you should always be able to demonstrate that a testimonial is genuine.

For more information, see our advice on testimonials.

Practitioners can make claims for the emotional and spiritual effects of a therapy, their professionalism and therapy surroundings. They can also highlight the relaxing nature of the therapy, its meditative qualities, improvement in a feeling of overall wellbeing and an improved sense of self. Other descriptive aspects about the therapy in practice can be included in advertising, as can the foundations of the therapy’s origin.

Copy Advice has a wealth of guidance on advertising specific therapies in its ‘AdviceOnline' database and Help Notes sections of the website.

As always, Copy Advice are here to provide bespoke advice on your non-broadcast advertising and you can contact the team on 020 7492 2100 or submit your enquiry via our website.

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