Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
In June 2023 the United Nations confirmed that, following a request from their government, that the Republic of Turkey would henceforth be identified as the Republic of Türkiye. Although the change has been implemented we have used the former here because it is currently more commonly understood by consumers.
A paid-for Instagram story by Nisantasi Hastanesi, a Turkish hospital, promoting cosmetic surgery from Estheday Medical Beauty was seen on 11 January 2023. The ad was headed “NEW YEAR CAMPAIGN” and large text underneath stated “BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT” and “360 LIPOSUCTION”. The story featured a slim woman dressed in underwear looking at herself in a full-length mirror. The mirror image showed a larger version of the same woman reflected back. The ad included a small ambulance icon, an icon with the word “HOTEL” and a location icon with “istanbul” next to it. Text read “All Inclusive €2400” with a link at the bottom of the story to “Get Offer”.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the ad, which encouraged consumers to travel abroad for cosmetic surgery in a “NEW YEAR CAMPAIGN”, was irresponsible because it trivialised the decision to have cosmetic surgery.
The ASA challenged whether:
2. the ad misleadingly omitted information regarding the need for a pre-consultation to assess the patient’s potential contraindications and suitability for the procedures, including where such a pre-consultation would take place; and
3. the imagery of a slim woman looking at a larger version of herself in the mirror was misleading because it exaggerated the effectiveness of the two promoted cosmetic procedures (“BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT” and “360 LIPOSUCTION”).
Estheday did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.Instagram had no comments in relation to the ASA’s investigation.
The ASA was concerned by Estheday’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The CAP Code required marketing communications be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
The headline wording of the ad was “NEW YEAR CAMPAIGN”. The visuals featured sparkling bauble-style decorations on a night sky background, which gave the ad a festive and upbeat feel. The ad focused on the interventions “BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT” and “360 LIPOSUCTION” accompanied by a picture of a slim woman looking in the mirror at a larger version of herself. We considered that the placement of the picture next to the wording would be interpreted by the consumer as a demonstration of the positive physical transformation of these interventions.
The ad focused on elements of the package associated with holidays “€ All Inclusive 2400”, accompanied by a taxi symbol and a hotel symbol, but gave very little further information about the cosmetic surgery package and procedures. The overall emphasis of the ad, the wording (“NEW YEAR CAMPAIGN”) and visuals, focused on the feel good element of the physical transformation as a result of the cosmetic intervention and was likely to detract from the seriousness of the surgery offered. It was also relevant that the surgery would take place abroad which raised the potential for additional risks such as: whether the doctors and treatment providers would have the same standards of care and safety as in the UK and how any arrangements for follow-up care and dealing with any complications which arose would be managed. The ad presented the cosmetic interventions in a purely positive light and as an easy transformation. We considered that the ad could be interpreted as suggesting that surgery was a decision that could be undertaken lightly as a New Year’s Resolution or holiday, without serious consideration of the nature of the intervention. We therefore concluded the overall presentation of the ad was likely to be seen as trivialising cosmetic surgery.
On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Social responsibility).
The CAP Guidance on Cosmetic interventions stated that marketers should not imply that invasive surgery was a “minor procedure” or similar if that claim was likely to mislead as to the complexity or duration of the operation, the pain experienced either during or after the operation, the length of the recovery time or the potential side-effects. Ads should not mislead as to the likely commitment required for pre-consultation, surgery, recovery and post-operative assessments.
Aside from the price (“€ All Inclusive 2400”) and location (“istanbul”), the ad contained no further detail regarding the two medical procedures included in this package - “BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT” and “360 LIPOSUCTION”. The ad omitted information regarding the need for a pre-consultation to assess the patient’s potential contraindications and suitability for the two procedures advertised, including where such a pre-consultation would take place. We understood that a pre-consultation would be necessary in order to discuss the patient’s concerns and suitability for the procedures, to outline the complexity or duration of the operations, the pain during or after the operation, the length of recovery time and the potential risks and side effects. While we had not received a response from the advertiser, we understood it was likely that those pre-consultations might sometimes need to take place in person rather than remotely. In this case, two significant medical interventions were included in the package, “BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT” and “360 LIPOSUCTION”, each with their own risks and recovery times.
We considered that in the context of an ad for cosmetic surgery abroad, information regarding the necessity for pre-consultations and where those would take place was material information necessary for consumers to make a considered decision and should have been included in the ad. Because that material information was not included we considered that the ad was misleading.
On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 and rule 3.3 (Misleading advertising).
The CAP code required that marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product.
The ad, which promoted cosmetic surgery and travel package to Turkey, showed an image of a slim woman looking at a larger version of herself reflected in the mirror. We considered that the placement of the picture next to the wording, “BRAZILIAN BUTT LIFT” and “360 LIPOSUCTION” would be understood by the consumer to demonstrate the woman’s physical transformation as a result of the two interventions advertised. From this visual presentation, we considered that the average consumer would believe such a transformation to be realistic and achievable through these two interventions. We noted that the image depicted a person who had lost a significant amount of weight from their entire body, with noticeably tauter and smoother skin overall, plus a dramatic physical change, which we understood was highly unlikely to result from the advertised surgeries alone. We received no evidence from the advertiser to substantiate the efficacy of the procedures in achieving the results shown in the ad. We considered that the ad exaggerated the capability of the cosmetic surgery, plus it implied an unrealistic end result; we therefore concluded that it was misleading.
On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Estheday to ensure that their ads were socially responsible and did not present the decision to have cosmetic surgery as a trivial one. We told Estheday not to mislead consumers by omitting material information regarding cosmetic surgery procedures abroad and the need for a pre-consultation, including where it would take place. We also told them not to mislead consumers by exaggerating the effectiveness of cosmetic surgery.
We referred the matter to CAP’s Compliance team.