A paid-for Facebook post from Lemongrassrice, an online retailer, seen on 1 April 2020 featured a smiling face with hearts emoji and text which stated “Feel less tight and more supportive with this Easy Comfort Bra! Ergonomic Design Easy Front Closure” accompanied by ticks in green boxes. Below was an image of the product and an X-ray image of a breast. Text at the bottom stated “REDUCE THE RISKS OF BREAST CANCER”.
IssueThe complainant, a healthcare professional specialising in breast health, challenged whether the claim that the product could “reduce the risks of breast cancer” was misleading and could be substantiated.
ResponseLemongrassrice Ltd did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries
The ASA was concerned by Lemongrassrice’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 provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The CAP Code stated that 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. The ASA considered that consumers who saw the claim “REDUCE THE RISKS OF BREAST CANCER” would understand that wearing the bra featured in the ad would reduce the risks of getting breast cancer.
We considered that to be a medical claim; however, we had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that the product was a CE-marked medical device. Furthermore, Lemongrassrice did not provide any evidence to show that the bra could reduce the risks of breast cancer. We concluded that the claim “REDUCE THE RISKS OF BREAST CANCER” had not been substantiated and 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 Lemongrassrice Ltd not to make claims that their products could reduce the risk of breast cancer if they did not hold evidence to substantiate such claims. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.