A press ad promoted compression leggings. Text stated "Welcome relief from tired, swollen legs and ankles ... Encourage circulation in your legs & reduce swelling & pain ... Do you find yourself sitting or standing for long periods of time? Whether at home or travelling, you may suffer from swollen ankles, tired heavy legs or aching calves. Thanks to our Compression Leggings, leave these problems behind you ... Reduces swelling and may help prevent DVT... Stimulating blood circulation and helping to limit swelling in your legs ...".
The complainant challenged whether the efficacy claims were misleading and could be substantiated.
Etail Ltd t/a Etail Mail Order provided some revised copies of the ad which they believed did not include any efficacy claims.
The ASA acknowledged that Etail had made changes to their advertising, but noted that the revised ads still included some of the challenged efficacy claims. We noted that Etail had not provided any evidence to demonstrate that the product could relieve tired, heavy, aching legs and ankles, reduce swelling, stimulate blood circulation or help prevent deep vein thrombosis. Because we had not seen any evidence to support the efficacy claims, we concluded that the claims had not been substantiated and that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are 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.
Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted on people. Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge.
Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.
Secondary medicinal claims made for cosmetic products as defined in the appropriate European legislation must be backed by evidence. These are limited to any preventative action of the product and may not include claims to treat disease. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Etail Ltd to ensure that they held robust documentary evidence to support their efficacy claims in future.