Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, one of which was Not upheld, and one issue was informally resolved after the advertiser agreed to amend their advertising.
A TV ad for Optical Express, seen on 1 August 2018, showed a series of scenes including a man proposing to a woman and a man holding a child, and a voice-over stated, “Life's all about moments you don't want to miss, so it's important we see them clearly. At Optical Express we help over 99% of our patients achieve 20/20 vision or better, and the same number would recommend us to their friends and family”. The ad featured shots of signs being held stating “99% of our patients achieve 20/20 vision or better” and “99% would recommend us to friends & family”, while on-screen text below stated “Source: Unaided Visual Acuity Analysis, Research Services, December 2017”. At the end of the ad, on-screen text in a blue circle stated “Laser Eye Surgery from £595 per eye” and below that “Book your FREE consultation today”, and the voice-over said, “Book your free eye surgery consultation today at Optical Express”.
The complainant challenged whether the claim “99% would recommend us to friends & family” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Optical Express (Westfield) Ltd said the claim was based on the results of a patient experience questionnaire. The questionnaire was offered to all patients who had received laser or intraocular lens surgery during their post-operative appointments, and it was completed electronically in the clinic. There was no incentive offered to patients to complete the questionnaire and it was voluntary. Optical Express said 99% of 300,312 respondents had answered ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Would you recommend Optical Express vision correction surgery to your friends and relatives?’.
Optical Express said the claim was based on the responses of 303,665 individuals between February 2008 and November 2017, and during that period the survey was offered to a total of 362,630 patients. They said that following any refractive surgical procedure, every patient was invited to attend post-operative appointments at one day, one week, one month and three months after surgery. Patients were given the opportunity to complete the survey during any of those appointments, and any additional appointments, with the exception of their initial meeting one day after surgery, where a different survey was offered which did not include the question about recommending the surgery to friends and relatives.
Optical Express provided a copy of the patient experience questionnaire and a document analysing the results of the survey.
Clearcast said they had approved the ad based on the results of the Patient Experience Questionnaire which was provided as substantiation by Optical Express.
The ad included the claim “99% would recommend us to friends & family”. Although eye surgery was only explicitly referred to at the end of the ad, the ASA noted that during the ad there were also references to “patients” and to achieving “20/20 vision or better”, which we considered viewers were likely to associate with surgery. Therefore in the overall context of the ad, we considered that consumers would be likely to understand the claim to mean that 99% of patients who had undergone eye surgery with Optical Express would recommend the service to family and friends.
In support of the claim Optical Express had provided the results of a patient experience questionnaire, in which 99% of respondents said that they would recommend vision correction surgery to their friends and relatives. We understood that all Optical Express patients who had received laser or intraocular lens surgery between February 2008 and November 2017 were given the opportunity to complete the survey during their post-operative appointments, from one week after surgery. We also understood that 84% of those who were invited to complete the questionnaire had provided responses, and that the sample was comprised of responses from 303,665 individuals.
We considered that the survey results, which were based on a large sample (and which comprised a high percentage of those asked to participate in the survey), provided adequate substantiation for the claim “99% would recommend us to friends & family”, as it was likely to be understood by consumers. We therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.