A page on the website www.healthnewsreport.info, which promoted weight loss supplements, was presented in the style of a news article and headed "Raspberry Ketone Diet Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam?" Further text stated "Julia Miller, our Health and Diet columnist, recently put the Raspberry Ketone Diet to the test. After four weeks of testing the effects of UK's Newest Superfood combined with a colon cleanser, she has reached the conclusion to what this diet is all about, and the results were surprising ... She lost 25 pounds in 4 weeks". At the end of the article a quote attributed to Julia stated "I lost 25lbs in 4 weeks, No Special Diet, No Intense Exercise". Under the heading "Conclusion" text stated "Like us, here at Channel 4, you might be a little doubtful about the effects of this diet, but you need to try it for yourself; the results are real ... Follow the links to the free trials I have provided and know that you are getting quality products that work ...". There were links to websites offering a 'free trial' of the two products, displayed throughout the ad.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because:
1. she did not believe the efficacy claims could be substantiated; and
2. she did not believe it was clear that the ad was a marketing communication because it was presented in the style of a news article.
Slimtoneplus.com said they took the complaints seriously and that they would pass on our comments to their advertising agency to make sure that they complied with the Code in future because the current promotion would come to an end shortly. They did not provide any specific response to the points raised in the complaint.
The ASA noted that slimtoneplus.com had not provided any evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims in the ad, and we therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
On this point, the ad breached 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 13.1 13.1 A weight-reduction regime in which the intake of energy is lower than its output is the most common self-treatment for achieving weight reduction. Any claim made for the effectiveness or action of a weight-reduction method or product must be backed, if applicable, by rigorous trials on people; testimonials that are not supported by trials do not constitute substantiation. (Weight control and slimming).
We considered that the presentation and content of the website implied that it was an editorial piece which had been written by an independent party. Because that was not the case, and the piece was not clearly marked as an advertorial, we considered it was not clear that the ad was a marketing communication and we concluded that it was misleading.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 2.1 Marketing communications must be obviously identifiable as such. and 2.4 2.4 Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them "advertisement feature". (Recognition of marketing communications) and 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told slimtoneplus.com to ensure that they held adequate substantiation for their claims, and to mark any advertorials clearly in future.