A TV ad for the cosmetic surgery provider Transform, seen in early June 2017, featured a voice-over that stated, “Every day is a great day when you’re doing the things you like to do. Being with the people you love to be with. Living your life the way you want to live it. If you’ve decided on breast surgery you can have a free consultation, finance options and expert surgeons at Transform. Just go to transforminglives.co.uk”. The voice-over was accompanied by scenes of a woman in her bedroom wearing a bathrobe and bra, with her cleavage exposed, the same woman going for a run in leggings and a sports bra, shopping with two female friends, putting on makeup while wearing a bathrobe with her cleavage exposed, and then on a night out with female friends, wearing a low-cut top which showed her cleavage. The text “No surgical procedure is entirely without risk. 18+ only” appeared in small font at the bottom of the screen towards the beginning of the ad, followed by the text “The decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly. Before going ahead with a procedure, allow time for reflection”. The ad was given Clearcast restrictions preventing it from being transmitted in or adjacent to children’s programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18 years.
Five complainants, who felt the ad exploited young women’s insecurities about their bodies, trivialised breast enhancement surgery and portrayed it as aspirational, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful.
TFHC Ltd t/a as Transform said that the ad portrayed a real-life patient in scenarios that she had cited as her own interests such as shopping, exercising and socialising. They said the ad did not imply that breast enhancement was trivial or attempt to exploit women’s insecurities, as it explicitly focused on the choice and wishes of individuals who have decided to have surgery, particularly in the line “Living your life the way you want to live it”.
Transform said that in order to avoid directly targeting a younger audience they deliberately chose a patient in her mid to late 20s, who was seen with a diverse group of friends who did not appear to have had breast surgery themselves. They said the ad did not make claims about any benefits of surgery or imply that surgery would solve personal or emotional problems. Transform also said the ad contained two disclaimers about risk and decision making.
Clearcast said that the ad portrayed an attractive woman enjoying her lifestyle with activities such as running, shopping and having an evening out with friends. However, they said that the advertiser was entitled to show their product in a good light and the ad was not aspirational, as it did not imply that this lifestyle was dependent on breast surgery.
Clearcast said the ad did not depict the woman as sad or downcast prior to the surgery, or suggest that it was negative to have smaller breasts. They said the footage did not concentrate on the woman’s breasts during the ad. They also highlighted that warnings were included in the visuals about the risk of surgery.
The ASA considered that the ad presented, in a positive light, the lifestyle of a woman who has had breast enhancement. However, we did not consider that the ad implied this aspirational lifestyle was due to breast enhancement or made any direct claims about the positive impact of surgery.
We acknowledged concerns that the ad exploited young women’s insecurities about their bodies. However, we considered that the ad focused on positive aspects of the woman’s lifestyle, and did not explore negative attitudes towards her body image prior to surgery.
The ad included two on-screen disclaimers stating “No surgical procedure is entirely without risk. 18+ only” and “The decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly. Before going ahead with a procedure, allow time for reflection”. The voice-over also included the wording “If you’ve decided on breast surgery” and drew attention to the requirement for a consultation. Taking those factors into account alongside the overall tone and content of the ad, we did not consider that the surgical procedure had been trivialised or that viewers were being encouraged to make a decision about surgery quickly or lightly.
We noted that the ad had been given a restriction by Clearcast preventing it from being seen during or adjacent to children’s programmes, or programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to audiences below the age of 18. We considered this restriction appropriate for the content of the ad.
We therefore concluded that the ad was not irresponsible or harmful.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 4.1 (Harm and offence) and 32.1 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.