A TV ad for XLS Medical, a weight loss aid, featured a testimonial from a woman called Jacqui who stated, "I've always struggled with my weight, but I've decided enough is enough, it's time to fight back". Jacqui, noticeably thinner, appeared again later in the ad and stated, "I've lost eighteen pounds!".
The complainant, who believed that Jacqui was wearing body forming underwear in the later scenes of the ad, challenged whether the testimonial was misleading.
Omega Pharma Ltd trading as Perrigo said that as the ad concerned weight loss and not body shape change, no record was made of the participants' clothing and no stipulations were put in place dictating the clothing that they could wear. However, they did not believe that any of the participants wore body-forming clothing and that any apparent change in body shape between the “before” and “after” visuals would have likely been down to different clothing worn in those scenes.
Clearcast said that Perrigo provided signed testimony from Jacqui during the script review process confirming that, with the help of the product and a calorie controlled diet, she had achieved the weight loss described in the ad. They said the presentation of the ad made it clear how much weight the participants had lost.
The ASA noted that when Jacqui first appeared on screen she wore a fitted green T-shirt that was visibly stretched over her stomach and said, "I've always struggled with my weight, but I've decided enough is enough, it's time to fight back". The voice-over that followed stated, “XLS Medical could help you lose up to three times more weight than dieting alone”. Jacqui re-appeared in the next scene wearing a red dress that was synched at the waist with the result that it was less fitted over the stomach. At that point she said “I’ve lost 18 pounds”.
We considered that body shape and weight loss were inherently linked and that the clothing Jacqui wore in the ad appeared to contribute to the impression that she was noticeably slimmer in the “after” scenes. However, the primary focus of the ad was the product’s ability to help with weight loss when used in conjunction with a calorie-controlled diet and we considered that the overall impression was that Jacqui had lost 18 pounds rather than that she had achieved a particular body shape.
Perrigo provided us with a copy of Jacqui's signed testimony to the effect that she had lost 18 pounds across the 12-week programme. Because Perrigo provided us with documentary evidence of Jacqui’s testimony, we concluded that it was genuine and that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated under BCAP Code rules
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 319(2). (Misleading advertising) and 3.45 3.45 Testimonials or endorsements used in advertising must be genuine, unless they are obviously fictitious, and be supported by documentary evidence. Testimonials and endorsements must relate to the advertised product or service. Claims that are likely to be interpreted as factual and appear in advertisements must not mislead or be likely to mislead. (Endorsements and testimonials), but did not find a breach.
No further action necessary.