Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A press ad for ABC Lasers, who offered medical and aesthetic treatments, seen in Aesthetics Journal's September 2017 edition, showed the lower half of a woman wearing briefs. She was pinching some flesh from her tummy between her thumb and forefinger. Text stated "If you can pinch it, we can treat it". Further text alongside the image of a clock stated "20 MINUTE BODY CONTOURING". A website address, email contact address and telephone number appeared at the bottom of the page.
1. The complainant, who believed the ad implied the model needed to undergo body contouring despite being slim, challenged whether it was irresponsible.
2. The ASA challenged whether the claim "If you can pinch it, we can treat it", and the emphasis on speed, trivialised the decision of whether or not to undergo body contouring, and was irresponsible.
1. & 2. ABC Lasers Ltd said the ad would be changed before they published it again.
Aesthetics Journal said the publication was for healthcare professionals and other staff and industry representatives in medical aesthetics rather than general consumers or those seeking treatment. They believed the ad therefore could not put pressure on individuals to feel they needed to undergo body contouring. They also believed professionals would understand "20 MINUTE BODY CONTOURING" to be a reference to the length of time it would take to conduct the treatment, and would have their own consultation procedures that would take place before that.
The ASA noted that the ad had appeared in a publication aimed at healthcare professionals involved in medical aesthetics. We considered it was nevertheless a concern if medical professionals received, and might pass on to consumers, the impression that body contouring could benefit people who were slim or that the decision to undergo the procedure was one that could be made quickly.
We considered the photograph, which showed the model's pronounced hip bone and her briefs gaping away from her body because of the bone's prominence, suggested that she was particularly slim. We considered the image nevertheless suggested, because she was able to pinch flesh from her tummy between her thumb and forefinger, along with the text "If you can pinch it, we can treat it", that she would still benefit from body contouring. We considered that the message that such slim people would benefit from weight loss treatment and the targeting of the ad towards those who were already slim was irresponsible. While we welcomed ABC Lasers' willingness to amend their ad, we concluded, however, that the ad breached the Code.
As mentioned above, we noted that the ad had appeared in a publication aimed at healthcare professionals involved in medical aesthetics but considered it was nevertheless a concern if medical professionals received, and might pass on to consumers, the impression that body contouring could benefit people who were slim or that the decision to undergo the procedure was one that could be made quickly.
We considered readers would understand the ad to mean that the body contouring procedure would be completed in 20 minutes. However, we considered the headline "20 MINUTE BODY CONTOURING" and the text "If you can pinch it, we can treat it" gave a frivolous tone to the ad and minimised the serious nature of the decision to undertake the procedure. The ad also made no reference to the risks of cosmetic surgery or any longer term need for after care. We considered the ad trivialised what the procedure involved and gave the impression that the decision to go ahead with it was one that could be taken lightly, without serious consideration. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code on that basis also.
On points 1. and 2. the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told ABC Lasers Ltd to ensure their ads did not suggest that particularly slim people could benefit from body contouring or that the decision to undergo body contouring was one that could be taken lightly.