Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, of which one was ‘Upheld’ and one Not upheld.
A radio ad for a cosmetic surgery clinic, heard on Rock FM during the breakfast show on 22 November, included the voice-over "Christmas is here and the New Birkdale Clinic's amazing voucher offer is back. Buy your Christmas voucher now and get £5,000 worth of cosmetic surgery for just £2,500. Yes, £5,000 worth of cosmetic surgery for only £2,500. So visit [website]. That's [website] and buy your voucher today, but hurry, offer must end midnight this Friday the 23rd of November".
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the time limited offer trivialised the risks associated with plastic surgery; and
2. the ad was unsuitable for broadcast at a time when children might be listening.
Liverpool Cosmetic Surgery Ltd (LCS) stated that the ad had been created on their behalf by Rock FM.
Rock FM stated that the ad was developed by another radio station and had been cleared for broadcast by the RACC with no day-part scheduling. They said the script promoted a financial offer to those in the market for cosmetic surgery and that it did not encourage young people to consider cosmetic surgery or communicate any safety messages associated with any medical procedures. They said it was therefore considered appropriate for broadcast at a time when children might be listening. They said they had received an assurance from the advertiser that they did not offer cosmetic surgery to anyone under 18 years of age and that anyone considering cosmetic surgery with the company had to undergo a thorough consultation process prior to any surgery.
The RACC said it considered the promotion of the offer as acceptable and that the ad targeted adults and the details were presented in a factual manner. They said that because they did not consider the content of the ad to be unsuitable, socially irresponsible or harmful or distressing to children, they did not advise a timing restriction.
The ASA noted the ad offered consumers the opportunity to obtain the discount against the cost of cosmetic surgery providing the voucher was purchased within days of hearing the broadcast. Although the ad did not suggest that cosmetic surgery was desirable or necessary, we considered the short response time and, in particular the statement "...but hurry, offer must end midnight this Friday the 23rd of November", trivialised what was a significant decision to have an invasive procedure. Whilst listeners may only have been able to take advantage of the offer by themselves making a significant financial contribution, we considered that the time limited offer could encourage individuals to make a decision to have cosmetic surgery when otherwise they would not have done without significant and lengthy consideration. This was further exacerbated by the fact the ad made no references to any consultations or cooling off periods, meaning that listeners who had agreed to the offer may have already committed themselves both financially and mentally to going ahead with surgery. We considered that the time-limited nature of the ad trivialised the decision to agree to cosmetic surgery and therefore concluded that it was irresponsible.
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rule 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility).
2. Not upheld
The ad did not contain any content which stated or implied that cosmetic surgery was socially necessary or desirable and made no reference to physical appearance. Furthermore, the clinic did not offer any cosmetic procedures to people under 18 years of age. We considered that the ad was unlikely to appeal to children and contained no content which was considered inappropriate for them to hear. We therefore concluded that a scheduling restriction was unnecessary.
On this point we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 32.3 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them. (Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
The ad should not appear again in its current form.