A TV ad, which also appeared on The Hospital Group's YouTube page, for gastric band weight loss surgery:
a. The TV ad opened with a scene of a living room with an open fire, candles, a champagne bottle, two full glasses of champagne and a photo of an overweight woman. The camera panned out showing a trail of women's clothing that led up a staircase. A voice was heard shouting, "Yes, yes, oh yes, yes" which continued and increased in intensity and pitch. This was accompanied with a Barry White style ballad. The scene continued into a bedroom and showed a woman jumping up and down on a bed. The woman sat on the edge of the bed and said, "I dropped 10 dress sizes thanks to weight loss surgery at The Hospital Group. Yes!" On-screen text stated "Subject to Body Mass Index & medical approval. Over 18s only".
A voice-over said, "If dieting and exercise hasn't worked for you, a gastric band could be the answer. Find out more today at the hospitalgroup.org." This was accompanied with on-screen text that gave The Hospital Group's website and contact telephone number.
Clearcast gave the ad a restriction that it should not be transmitted in or adjacent to children's programmes or programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18.
b. The same ad appeared on The Hospital Group's YouTube page.
Five complainants challenged whether the ads were socially irresponsible, because they believed they trivialised weight loss surgery.
The Hospital Group Ltd (The Hospital Group) said they did not believe the ads trivialised weight loss surgery nor were they socially irresponsible. They said the ads featured a genuine gastric band patient who succeeded in losing weight and the ad conveyed her excitement and jubilation. The Hospital Group said they had worked with Clearcast throughout the development of the ad and they had suggested the subtitles "Over 18s only" and "Subject to Body Mass Index " were included.
Clearcast said the issues of social responsibility and the trivialisation of weight loss surgery were given careful consideration at the pre-production stage, and they had requested the inclusion of the voice-over, "If dieting and exercise hasn't worked for you, a gastric band could be the answer" which indicated that the primary weight loss option should always be through diet and exercise and that gastric band surgery should be considered as a last resort. They said the voice-over emphasised gastric band surgery may not be suitable for everyone. Clearcast said the ad would not have been approved without the additional gravitas of the on-screen text "subject to ... medical approval". Clearcast considered that the visual of the actor jumping on the bed was simply a presentation of her feeling of success and, overall, the ad had an element of wholesome fun.
The ASA noted the voice-over included a reference to gastric band surgery as an option after dieting and exercise had failed. We agreed that the voice-over gave the impression that not everyone would be suitable for the procedure. We considered the on-screen text regarding medical approval, in conjunction with the voice-over, portrayed a responsible message that did not encourage gastric band surgery as a first option.
We noted the opening scene when the actor's voice was heard, and the shots of the actor jumping on the bed, and considered those scenes were light-hearted and when taken in context with the on-screen text and voice-over we considered the ads conveyed a sense of excitement and achievement rather than an encouragement to consider gastric band surgery as an easy weight loss option. We therefore concluded the ads did not trivialise gastric band surgery and were not socially irresponsible.
We investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rule 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising) and ad (b) under 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), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.