Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
An advertorial, seen on www.skinbeautyuk.com/uk/skin.html, promoted two anti-aging serums and free trials to sample the products. Text stated "A Mom Outsmarts Botox Doctors With Her $5 Trick to a Wrinkle Free Face - Surprising 14 Day Results Revealed". The ad featured a number of "before" and "after" photos purporting to show the results achieved by a woman using the product. The first two images were accompanied with the text "2 WEEKS Actual unretouched photos The second picture is taken exactly 14 days after the first. Notice the strong difference after applying the Pro Collagen Serum & Apple Cell Serum". Under the title "Limited Time Offer For Our Readers" free trials were offered for both products. The text "Get a Free Trial Today" linked to www.promotions.tlbodywellness.com/uk for the Revivagenix Pro Collagen Serum, and www.promotions.hlthstore-shop.com/uk for the Revivagenix Apple Cell Serum.
Under the heading "Comments", a number of testimonials appeared including an entry from "Chelsey" which stated "I have been using this Anti Aging trial for 3 weeks now, and I seriously look 5 years younger! Not quite as good as this mom, but I'll take it when it was less than 5 bucks for each! My crow's (sic) feet and laugh lines are melting away more and more every day. Thank you so much for reporting on this".
Footnote text at the bottom of the ad stated "DISCLAIMER ... The story depicted on this site and the person depicted in the story are not real, rather this story is based on the results that some people who have used these products have achieved. The results portrayed in the story and in the comments are illustrative and may not be the results that you achieve with these products. The depictions on this page are fictitious and indicative of potential results. Actual results may vary".
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the "before" and "after" photos featured in the ad were genuine; and
2. the testimonials were genuine.
GTMC Inc explained that they were responsible for the brand "Revivagenix" and, therefore, the products "Pro Collagen Serum" and "Apple Cell Serum". They said the website www.skinbeautyuk.com/uk/skin.html had not been created by them, but had been created by an affiliate. However, they were unable to identify the affiliate responsible or provide their contact details. GTMC Inc stated that they had halted all their campaigns in the UK until they could secure greater control over their affiliates' advertising.
We noted that GTMC Inc was responsible for the products being advertised and the landing pages that consumers were directed to if they clicked on the "Free trial" links. Although we acknowledged that they maintained the website had been produced by an affiliate, we nonetheless considered that, as the beneficiary of the marketing material, GTMC Inc was responsible for the ad and for responding to the ASA investigation.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA noted the disclaimer which appeared at the bottom of the page which stated that the images and testimonials featured on site were "illustrative" and might not reflect the results achieved by consumers. However, we also noted that we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that the before and after images and the testimonials were genuine. We therefore concluded that ad had breached the Code.
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.
Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification), 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration) and 3.45 3.45 Marketers must hold documentary evidence that a testimonial or endorsement used in a marketing communication is genuine, unless it is obviously fictitious, and hold contact details for the person who, or organisation that, gives it. (Endorsements and testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told GTMC Inc to ensure all the images and testimonials featured in their future ads were genuine and accurately reflected the results that could be achieved by using their products.