Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Two Instagram posts and a website for All Dolled Up, a cosmetic surgery company, seen in August 2017:
a. A post on all.dolled.up.surgery’s Instagram page included an image with text stating, “£1000 DISCOUNT + extra massage treatments ON GROUP BOOKINGS FOR SEPTEMBER 2017 ONLY YOU PLUS THREE FRIENDS Terms and Conditions Apply- please email firstname.lastname@example.org for full T&Cs. Minimum of 8 night package per person”. The image was accompanied by a caption which stated “Group Bookings £1000 Discount off of [sic] the group booking for our September 2017 trip #breastaugmentation … #rhinoplasty … #boobjob … #buttockenhancement … #fullbodylipo …”.
b. An Instagram post on the same page included an image of a naked woman sat on the floor with her legs crossed and her arm covering her breasts. A white bar appeared across the image which included a ‘sparkling heart’ emoji followed by the text “Barbie Pussy From £2,599 Labiaplasty & Viginoplasty [sic]”. The image was accompanied by a caption which stated “#barbiepussy #designervagina #cosmeticsurgery #labiaplasty #vaginoplasty …”.
c. A page entitled “Popular Packages”, on the website www.all-dolled-up.services, included an image of a cartoon woman in a logo at the top of the page and text under the heading “Packages/Price List”, which stated: “Body Packages Each package can be tailored to suit your individual needs Peachy Package From £4,299 Perfect peachy bum with an itzy-bitzy [sic] waist! Say good bye to muffin tops, love handles and tummy rolls! This package includes vaser liposuction, with fat transfer into the buttocks. Hello peachy bum!! Upgrade to have additional vaser liposuction to other stubborn areas; all-inclusive packages start from just £4,999!”. Other packages were called: “I like BIG butts!”, “Plastic Makes Perfect Why choose when you can have it all?”, “Forever Young”, “Barbie Pussy”, “Camera Ready Full body vaser liposuction to give you a boost of confidence paired with botox and lip fillers to complete the look”, “Fantasy Femanising [sic] Package When we think feminine, we think beautiful sexy curves and gorgeous smiles … So here it is; the ultimate surgery package. Breast implants, Vaser liposuction to the abdomen and sides with shaping/etching giving you a beautifully toned appearance. Fat transfer to enhance hips and bum, Lip filler to create the perfect pout”, “Dolly Nose”, “Doll Face”, “Plastic Makes Perfect (Face Package)”, “Pixie Prefect [sic]”, and “Doe Eyed Beauty”. Each product name was accompanied by an emoji.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. ad (a) was irresponsible and trivialised the decision to have cosmetic surgery because it offered consumers a discount and additional massages when booking procedures in a group; and
2. the cosmetic surgery package names and descriptions in ads (b) and (c) were irresponsible, harmful and offensive because they trivialised cosmetic surgery.
1. & 2. All Dolled Up said that the ads were part of a project which looked at how to advertise a service of care in the growing industry of cosmetic surgery. They said they had taken on board the concerns raised and that all proper channels would have been followed for any customer, which included a consultation and assessment with a surgeon. Further, the “Barbie pussy” procedure had been available as cosmetic surgery for many years and they considered that it was commonly known terminology. All Dolled Up said they had included the medical terminology in the initial description which they believed was a professional statement to ensure women were fully aware of what they were asking for rather than simply following a trend. The package names that they had used were intended to provide comfort for women who had made serious and informed decisions, which they considered to be not dissimilar to the term ‘yummy mummy’. They stated that in the future they would seek advice from CAP and that they had amended their website and deactivated their Instagram pages.
The ASA noted that the promotion offered a discount for people who booked a package with three other people, and that the background image of the post was a group of four women on holiday. The post was accompanied by a caption which contained two emojis of two women holding hands and various hash tags including “bootygains” [peach emoji], “overnight abs” and “here to help”. We considered that the ad was not likely to be interpreted as promoting a holiday and that it was clear that it was for medical tourism. However, the overall tone of the ad, including the image of four women who appeared to be having fun on holiday, the emojis and hashtags in the caption were likely to detract from the seriousness of the surgery offered such as breast augmentation and liposuction. We considered that the overall presentation of the ad was likely to give the impression that surgery was a decision that could be undertaken lightly without serious consideration of the nature of the intervention. We concluded that the ad trivialised cosmetic surgery and was therefore irresponsible.
On that point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility).
We noted that ad (b) included the name of the cosmetic surgery package “Barbie Pussy” accompanied by the sparkling heart emoji and medical terms for the procedures “Labiaplasty and Viginoplasty [sic]”, which we understood to be a reduction in size of the labia and a tightening of the vaginal wall. As in ad (a), the post’s caption included various hashtags such as “barbiepussy”, “designervagina”, “perfectpussy” and “affordableprices”.
We considered that the term “Barbie” was likely to be understood by consumers as a reference to both the toy doll and to achieving physical ‘perfection’. We considered that the phrases “Barbie pussy”, “perfect pussy” and “designer vagina” presented the procedures as aspirational, fashionable, and a way to achieve a ‘perfect’, more attractive vagina. Given the nature of the procedures we further considered that the phrases risked encouraging women to view their labia and vagina as abnormal. We also considered that the presentation of the phrase “Barbie Pussy” with the accompanying hashtag and emoji was likely to appeal especially to young women and teenage girls.
We noted that the post appeared on All Dolled Up’s own Instagram page and was not promoted elsewhere on the website. However, we considered that as they had used the correct surgical terms, labiaplasty and vaginoplasty, as searchable hashtags, the post would have been visible to any user who had searched those terms and not just their own followers.
We considered the package name ‘Barbie Pussy’ and hashtags presented the surgical interventions as aspirational and trivialised the serious nature of the cosmetic surgery. We therefore concluded that the ad was harmful and therefore irresponsible, and likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
We noted that, as in ad (b), ad (c) contained descriptions of cosmetic surgery packages with names including “Peachy package”, “Camera ready”, “Fantasy Femanising [sic] Package” and “Forever Young”. Each package was accompanied by a short description and list of the procedures involved. For example, the “Fantasy Femanising [sic] Package” was accompanied by the description “When we think feminine, we think beautiful sexy curves and gorgeous smiles … So here it is; the ultimate surgery package”. Other descriptions included phrases such as “itzy-bitzy waist”, “Why choose when you can have it all?”, “give you a boost of confidence” and “achieve the highly desired dolly nose style”. Each package name was also accompanied by a different emoji such as ‘the peach’, ‘the hair flick’ and ‘the unicorn’. We also noted that the company logo, a cartoon image of a woman, appeared at the top of the price list. We considered that the package names and descriptions such as “Peachy package”, “Camera ready” and “itzy-bitzy waist” gave the ad an overall flippant tone and minimised the invasiveness of the procedures offered. We considered that the inclusion of emojis and a cartoon logo emphasised the frivolous tone of the ad. We therefore considered that the package names and descriptions trivialised the serious nature of the cosmetic surgery. For the above reasons, we concluded that that the ad was harmful and therefore irresponsible, and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On that point, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
(Social responsibility) and
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and Offence).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told All Dolled Up to ensure their service was advertised in a socially responsible way and did not contain anything that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.