Claims on the advertisers' Facebook page, for surgery, stated "We welcome you to join our trip to the wonderful winter wonderland in Wroclaw 12th to 15th December. FREE CONSULTATIONS, Tour our medical facilities, Christmas market and sight seeing [sic] - If you's [sic] like to join in the festivities contact your patient care manager or email [email protected] … secret surgery … FREE surgical consultations, tour the medical facilities, Christmas Market". The ad featured images of a Christmas hat and a stocking.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because it promoted cosmetic surgery as part of a Christmas trip.
Secret Surgery Ltd said they did not think the ad was irresponsible. They said they offered concierge trips rather than cosmetic surgery holidays. They said the service assisted people with a wide range of consultations and personal services. They said that the trip promoted in the ad was concierge service for medical tourists, involving a tour of medical facilities in Poland. They said the consultation trip gave consumers the opportunity to make an informed choice, meeting surgeons in advance of payment and touring the medical facilities. They said no money was exchanged during the trip and no patient was informed of the price of surgery. They said there was no pressure to have surgery and that the consultation trips were arranged for free. They said the trip was in December, when there was a Christmas market on, and people purchased their own flights, hotel and taxi transfers. They provided screenshots of customer feedback. They pointed out that the ad did not specifically mention "cosmetic" surgery and only the term "surgical consultations" appeared, which they said was ambiguous in meaning. They said that, due to the concise nature of the ad, they were not able to include a disclaimer pointing out the difference between a surgical consultation and cosmetic surgery.
Facebook said they had investigated the matter and the post did not violate their page terms or community standards.
The ASA acknowledged that the ad promoted a consultation trip for consumers who were considering cosmetic surgery. However, we noted that the ad described the trip as going to "the wonderful winter wonderland" and listed activities such as visiting the "Christmas market" and "sight seeing [sic]" with "FREE CONSULTATIONS" and a tour of the "medical facilities". The ad also invited customers to join in with "the festivities". We considered the presentation of the references to the consultations and tour of the medical facilities as part of a Christmas trip involving festive activities was likely to give the impression that surgery was a decision that could be undertaken lightly, without serious consideration of the nature of the intervention. Because we considered the overall presentation of the ad was likely to be seen as trivialising cosmetic surgery, we concluded it was irresponsible.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising).
The ad must not appear in its current form. We told Secret Surgery Ltd to ensure that future advertising did not trivialise cosmetic surgery.