A TV ad for MYA Cosmetic Surgery began with text across the screen which stated "MYA - MAKE YOURSELF AMAZING - COSMETIC SURGERY - REMOVE AREAS OF STUBBORN FAT IN 2 HOURS". The ad then featured several testimonees speaking about Vaser liposuction. The first testimonee stated, "MYA Vaser Lipo is a modern type of liposuction. The incisions are tiny, the fat gets sucked out and you recover within hours". Accompanying large on-screen text stated "RECOVERY WITHIN HOURS". Small on-screen text appeared which stated "No surgical procedure is entirely without risk. Vaser is a procedure that might carry some of the same risks as traditional liposuction". Further testimonees stated, "I spent months trying to shift this in the gym and it was done in two hours at MYA", accompanied by large on-screen text which stated "HELP REMOVE STUBBORN AREAS" and "My mum can't believe the results, she wants it too", accompanied by large on-screen text which stated "EVERYTHING JUST FITS SO MUCH BETTER". The small on-screen text changed to "Any decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly. Allow plenty of time to reflect before going ahead with a procedure". Further testimonees stated, "Had my breasts done at MYA, loved them", accompanied by large on-screen text which stated "HAD MY BREASTS DONE. LOVED THEM"; "I'm so glad I had it done", accompanied by large on-screen text which stated "CLOTHES FIT BETTER"; and "Absolutely over the moon with my results", accompanied by large on-screen text which stated "OVER THE MOON WITH MY RESULTS". The final testimonee stated "Check out my amazing before and after results at the MYA website now", accompanied by large on-screen text which stated "AMAZING BEFORE & AFTER RESULTS". Large on-screen text then stated "MYA MAKE YOURSELF AMAZING COSMETIC SURGERY".
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and trivialised cosmetic surgery.
MYA Cosmetic Surgery Ltd understood that the complainants were particularly concerned about the claim "Make Yourself Amazing" and that the ad implied that cosmetic surgery could be relied on to solve weight gain. MYA said that "MYA" stood for "Make Yourself Amazing", which was a positive and emotive statement and which formed part of their branding. They believed adult viewers would understand the claim as representing customers who had felt self-conscious about their physical appearance and who after surgery were satisfied with the results and therefore felt amazing. They did not think adult viewers would interpret the claim as implying that body-image and self-confidence issues could be removed through cosmetic surgery or that surgery was a fast-track way to be happy or look amazing. They considered that was emphasised by on-screen text which stated "Any decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly. Allow plenty of time to reflect before going ahead with a procedure". MYA also believed there was also nothing in the ad which suggested that cosmetic surgery could be relied on as a way to weight loss. They said the ad specifically emphasised that Vaser removed "stubborn fat" after the patient in question exercised unsuccessfully for months in the gym.
MYA highlighted that, following an ASA ruling (reference A14-266535) which found a previous version of the ad in breach of the Code, they had made changes to the content of the ad including removing statements made by two of the individuals featured in the ad, and adding the tagline "Make Yourself Amazing" and on-screen text which made clear that Vaser Liposuction was a procedure that might carry some of the same risks as traditional liposuction. They believed the changes they made had addressed the ASA's concerns about the previous version of the ad.
Clearcast said that following the ASA's ruling on the previous version of the ad, they had looked very carefully at the new version when going through the approval process. The advertiser had made a number of amendments and Clearcast had requested further amendments before eventually approving it. They felt that the on-screen text provided information about the potential risks of Vaser and provided balance to the statements about the benefits of Vaser by highlighting that those risks should be considered carefully. Statements had also been removed which the ASA had considered suggested that a decision to undergo the procedure was a quick and simple one to make.
Clearcast did not believe the ad implied that people could rely on cosmetic surgery to lose weight; they felt the statement "I spent months trying to shift this in the gym, and it was done in two hours at MYA" instead had the implication that surgery was a last resort undertaken only after a serious attempt at losing fat through exercise. They believed the ASA had taken that interpretation in its previous ruling.
Clearcast said they had approved the slogan "Make Yourself Amazing" to appear in a number of TV ads for MYA, and each time had carefully considered it in the context of each ad to ensure it was responsible. They highlighted that the ASA did not raise concerns about its use in the version of the ad previously ruled on, and said they considered it was acceptable in the current version of the ad because it only appeared a limited number of times and was balanced by text warning that Vaser, like all cosmetic surgery, must be considered seriously and not undertaken lightly.
The ASA noted that as a result of our ruling in relation to a previous version of the ad, MYA and Clearcast had made changes which they believed would address our concerns and ensure the ad was compliant with the Code. We noted those changes and considered that, in particular, the addition of on-screen text that highlighted there was risk involved in the procedure and that decisions to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly, helped to provide balance to the testimonees' statements about their experiences and the benefits of Vaser. However, we also noted that, at the beginning of the ad, large on-screen text referenced that the procedure took two hours, that a testimonee then highlighted that patients recovered "within hours" whilst large on-screen text also stated "RECOVERY WITHIN HOURS" and that a further testimonee stated the procedure took two hours. We considered the prominence of those statements relative to the prominence of the small on-screen text which referenced the risks was such that the disclaimers were not sufficient to fully balance the overall emphasis on speed and ease in the voice-over and large on-screen text. Whilst we acknowledged the amendments that had been made to the ad, we considered the overall impression of the ad therefore trivialised cosmetic surgery. We concluded the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and Offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.