A TV ad for Sanex Advanced Hydrate 24 Hour shower gel seen in July 2015 featured a voiceover which stated “This is dry skin. It's a common problem. Introducing our clinically proven way to hydrate it. A shower gel. New sanex advanced hydrate 24 hours, proven to moisturise your skin for 24 hours. Recommended by 97% of women who tried it. Sanex. Keeps skin healthy. Onscreen text at the bottom of the screen stated “Results shown after one week of use. 97% of 32 daily body lotion users”.
The ASA received two complaints:
1. Beiersdorf UK Ltd, who believed that the product provided at best the same level of moisturisation as other shower gels on the market, challenged whether the claims that the shower gel actively moisturised and hydrated skin and that the effect lasted for 24 hours were misleading and could be substantiated; and
2. Unilever UK Ltd, who believed the ad implied that the product provided 24 hours of moisturisation from the first use, challenged whether the qualification "Results shown after one week of use" contradicted that impression and the ad was therefore misleading.
1. Colgate-Palmolive (UK) Ltd (Colgate-Palmolive) said the claims in the ad would be understood by consumers to mean that the effect of the product was such that a user’s skin would remain moisturised for 24 hours following one week’s use of the product in the shower. It was not claimed that the product effect would last longer than 24 hours, or that it was more effective than any other product on the market. They said the claim was supported by the results of a controlled randomised clinical study on humans, which they provided a copy of. They said the results proved that the product showed a statistically significant increase in skin hydration when compared to the control product and the skin before application and after 24 hours, following one week’s once-a-day application. Significantly higher moisture levels were found in the deep layers of the skin as well as in shallower ranges. They said that although the ad did not contain a comparative claim, they did not accept that the product provided the same levels of moisturisation as other shower gels on the market. The product’s moisturising effect differed from that of many other shower gels because it contained additional moisturising ingredients which combined together to contribute to a measurable moisturisation benefit. They said the clinical study was supported by consumer perception tests where 81% of users agreed that the product moisturised the skin visibly more than a normal shower gel. 62% of the users who normally used body lotion daily also agreed that the product kept their skin moisturised for 24 hours after use.
They said the clinical study followed the industry standard for rinse off skin cleansing products and as such involved a controlled application test on the forearm using an exposure protocol based on consumer washing habits. Confocal Raman spectroscopy was the method used to measure the water content of the subject’s. This involved incremental measurements of the entire upper layer of the skin (stratum corneum).
Colgate-Palmolive subsequently provided three further studies, which had not been seen by Clearcast or their expert, and copies of reviews from users of the product on a retailer’s website. They said the studies supported the claims in the ad and that the reviews gave an insight into how consumers were responding to the product, having used it at home.
Clearcast said they had sought expert advice on the evidence provided by Colgate-Palmolive and that their consultant said the claims were adequately supported by the evidence. On that basis they cleared the ad. They provided copies of the evidence they had considered which included: the clinical study; examples of other studies of different products which used similar testing methodology; and, extracts of results from consumer perception tests of the product. They also provided a copy of their consultant’s comments on the evidence.
2. Colgate-Palmolive said that the product did moisturise from first use but that in order to get the proven 24 hour effect the consumer did need to use the product daily over the course of one week. They said that this was not unusual and many products required an accumulation period to work to their full effect. They therefore included the qualification “Results shown after one week of use” which they believed viewers would readily understand to mean that the claimed results would be achieved and visible within one week. However, even if consumers’ did not notice the qualifier, they would still see the benefits of the product with regular use.
Clearcast did not believe there was anything in the ad to suggest that the results were immediate. They believed the on-screen text made clear that to achieve the 24 hour moisturisation effect the product needed to be used for a week.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the ad that the product was effective in moisturising dry skin and maintaining that effect for 24 hours after use. We also considered, due to the ad’s emphasis on the 24 hours claim, in particular in the voiceover statement “proven to moisturise your skin for 24 hours”, it needed to be made clear to viewers that the claimed effect would not be seen until one week’s use of the product on a daily basis. We did not consider that was made sufficiently clear to viewers by the on-screen text and that the statement “Results shown after one week of use” did not make clear that this was a reference to the 24 moisturisation claim, and that for that reason viewers would understand the 24 hour moisturisation claim to apply from first use. The ASA sought expert advice on the evidence which had been seen by Clearcast as well as the additional evidence provide by the advertiser.
We considered that the design, and the application and rinse protocol, of the clinical study seen by Clearcast appeared to be generally robust. However, it had excluded dry skinned individuals. The study measured an increase in the water content of the skin of the subjects after one week of use and although it was likely that dry skin would also have seen an increase in water content, we did not consider that it was possible to determine from the study whether a 24 hour moisturisation effect would be seen in dry skinned individuals, although it was likely that they would also see an increase in water content in the skin. In addition whilst the confocal Raman spectroscopy used to measure water content was a useful investigative tool, we understood the measure of water content did not necessarily relate to a direct benefit to the skin and in general increased water content was a benefit which should be confirmed with consumer tests. The water profile at 20um depth in the skin showed a small increase compared to no increase with the control, of a level which may or may not have been perceivable by the user. The differences were statistically significant and suggested a definitive but small positive increase, but were not necessarily clinically significant.
To determine whether the increased water content of the skin was perceptible to users as a moisturising effect, we assessed the consumer perception test results provided by Colgate-Palmolive. 43% of the 65 participants in the initial stage of the tests identified themselves as having “dry to very dry” skin, and 37% highlighted “dehydrated or dried out skin” as a concern. However, only 47 participants went on the user stage of the tests, and the percentage of dry-skinned users in this sample was not clear. The participants were asked a series of questions about their perception of the product’s effects, the results of which were generally positive. The only statement that had the potential to directly support the claim was “Keeps my skin moisturised for 24 hours”, with which 60% of the total panel, and 62% of the core target (women who used moisturiser every day), agreed. We did not consider that this level of agreement was sufficiently high to support the claim. Overall, the results showed that a significant number of users with an undefined mix of skin types had perceived a moisturisation benefit for some time after showering, but they did not constitute robust evidence that this effect had been observed for 24 hours.
The three further studies provided by Colgate-Palmolive involved products which were described in two cases as having a similar backbone to the advertised product and in one case as using the same moisturising technology. While it was not clear whether the exact concentrations of the ingredients varied from those used in the advertised product, the additional studies provided further information on the effect of the moisturising technology on dry skin. The first study was of 32 subjects with dry skin. It included perception testing, but as the self-assessment took place only one hour after last use, we did not consider that it was relevant to the 24 hour claim. The second study tested skin which had been “dried” by use of soap over seven days, with a reported moisturising effect after a three day regression period. The results suggested that a shower product with a product base similar to that of the Sanex product had a residual moisturising effect that appeared to last up to three days, although we noted that it was a small-scale study, with only 15 subjects. Furthermore, it did not test the effect of the advertised product itself, so we were unable to extrapolate conclusions about the long-term effect of the Sanex product. The third study was of 30 subjects, with their skin types not specified. It involved twice daily use, and was therefore unlikely to mirror typical consumer use of the product. Overall, we considered that the studies provided supporting evidence of a moisturising effect from the ingredients within the advertised product, including on dry skin, and in one case they suggested that the effect could last for 24 hours or more. However, due to aspects of the methodology and the fact that the studies did not relate to the advertised product, we did not consider that they were sufficient to support the claim. We noted the consumer reviews as supporting the moisturising effect of the product but considered that we nonetheless needed to see further evidence to support the claimed effect.
Because the ad implied that the product would moisturise for 24 hours from first use when the evidence related to one week’s daily use, and because that evidence was in any case insufficient to substantiate that the product was effective in maintaining the moisturising effect for 24 hours after use in either normal and dry skin, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
Qualifications must be presented clearly.
BCAP has published Guidance on Superimposed Text to help television broadcasters ensure compliance with rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. . The guidance is available at:
http://www.cap.org.uk/~/media/Files/CAP/Help%20notes%20new/BCAP_Advertising_Guidance_Notes_1.ashx Qualification) and 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Colgate-Palmolive not to repeat claims that the moisturising effect of the product lasted for 24 hours and that when targeting consumers with specific skin types they should ensure that they held relevant evidence to support those claims. We also told them to ensure that qualifications were presented sufficiently clearly.