A paid-for Facebook ad for Oneade us, a skincare and cosmetics company, seen on 7 January 2022, stated “Deeply clean your pores, remove blackheads, reduce excess oil, dirt, and other materials that can build up, clog pores, and potentially cause blackheads. Made of organic green tea, this mask is gentle enough for sensitive skin. Get yours now: http://www.oneade.com/products/mask-stick”. The accompanying video compiled shots of a series of models using the Poreless Deep Cleanse Green Tea Mask Stick to apply a green paste-like substance to a patch of skin on their face. In each of the shots, which were sped-up and set to music, dark flecks were shown to form instantaneously across the paste’s surface. As the substance was subsequently removed with a wipe, the dramatically improved complexion of the skin underneath was revealed. In one of the shots, the red acne-like spots that were initially visible on the model’s cheeks had completely cleared after the mask’s removal. A side-by-side comparison of images of the model’s face before and after using the product was then displayed, accompanied by text stating “Before use” and “After use”.
IssueThe complainant, who believed that filters and effects had been applied to the models’ skin and that the product did not have the blackhead removing effect depicted, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
ResponseOneade t/a Oneade us did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Oneade’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The shots of models applying the mask stick showed the product causing a near-instantaneous and dramatic clearing of their skin blemishes. We considered that consumers would understand those shots as objective visual claims of the product’s efficacy. We considered that impression was reinforced by the inclusion of the “before and after” comparison, and because some shots appeared as though they had been produced by reviewers or customers. While we acknowledged that the footage had been noticeably sped-up, the product’s effect was still depicted as occurring across a single, brief sitting. As such, we considered that the ad gave the impression that consumers would achieve similar results, across a similarly quick timeframe.
Oneade did not provide any evidence to demonstrate that the shots in the ad were representative of the skin-clearing effect consumers could expect. They had also not provided evidence to show that the footage was unaltered, or that other techniques such as the use of make-up to imitate or mask blemishes had not been used. Because we had not seen substantiation to support the depicted efficacy of the product, we concluded the ad was misleading.
The ad breached the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 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. (Substantiation) 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 Oneade t/a Oneade us to ensure that future ads did not include claims, including visual ones, of their product’s skin-clearing efficacy unless they held adequate evidence to substantiate them. We also told them not to use before and after comparisons, or footage of their product’s application process, if they did not hold sufficient evidence to support that they were unaltered and that the persons featured genuinely received the results depicted. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.