A page describing Olay Regenerist skincare products on www.olay.co.uk, seen in October 2016, stated “Re-energises skin’s appearance cell by cell*”. Small text stated “*by exfoliating skin surface cells”.
The complainant, a cosmetic doctor, challenged whether the claim “Re-energises skin’s appearance cell by cell” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd (P&G) said that the Olay Regenerist range of facial moisturisers provided consumers with hydration and surface exfoliation driven benefits. They said that all products in the range included 5% niacinamide (vitamin B3).
P&G said that in the context of the claim, “cell by cell” was not intended to convey a specific performance benefit but to describe the non-discriminatory mechanistic action by which the product worked on all surface skin cells to which they were applied. They said that niacinamide was proven to increase the rate of surface cell renewal and provide an exfoliation benefit, while the lubricous nature of the product smoothed the skin’s surface. P&G stated that the combination of these two factors resulted in improved skin appearance, which the consumer would perceive in terms of improved radiance, less dullness and a re-energised look.
P&G did not believe that the claim implied a deeper physiological action. The claim referred to the skin’s “appearance”, and the cosmetic nature of the claim was clarified by the reference to “skin surface cells” in the small text.
P&G submitted the results of consumer perception tests in which participants rated the effect of different Olay Regenerist products on their skin’s appearance. They also submitted a clinical study comparing the rate of surface cell exfoliation for participants using Regenerist 3 point age defying night cream and those using no treatment.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “Re-energises skin’s appearance cell by cell”, on its own, to mean that the products would have beneficial effect on the appearance of their skin, though it was not clear how that effect would be achieved. We considered that “cell by cell” implied that the product would have a deeper physiological effect rather than only a surface level effect, and that the word “re-energises” reinforced that impression in this context. Smaller text linked by an asterisk stated “by exfoliating skin surface cells”. While the qualifying text explained the basis of the headline claim, we considered that it was unlikely to counteract the impression given that the product would have a deeper effect on skin cells.
We understood that all products in the range contained niacinamide, which provided an exfoliation benefit. We considered that the results of the consumer perception test provided by P&G indicated that a large proportion of users had perceived an improvement in their skin’s appearance after using Olay Regenerist 3 point age defying night cream. They also provided survey results showing a high level of consumer agreement with the claim "Re-energises skin's appearance cell by cell" in relation to different products in the Regenerist range. However, we did not consider that an appearance benefit that was based only on the removal of surface cells was in line with the likely consumer interpretation of the claim “Re-energises skin’s appearance cell by cell” in the context of the ad. We concluded that the claim “Re-energises skin’s appearance cell by cell” as consumers were likely to interpret it had not been substantiated and was therefore misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd to ensure that they held sufficient evidence to support claims made in their advertising.