Ad description

A post on Tonic Weight Loss Surgery’s Instagram page, seen on 19 May 2022, stated, “LAST CHANCE - Book your surgery before summer and start your transformation!? Book your FREE consultation today and begin your weight loss journey with Tonic”. Followed by a number of hashtags including, “#bypass”, “#bariatricsurgerycommunity”, “#gastricsleevesurgery” and “#gastricsleeve”. The text was accompanied by an image of a suitcase on a beach.


The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because they believed it trivialised the decision to have weight-loss surgery and put pressure on consumers to book a surgical procedure before summer.


Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd said the wording “last chance”, was not intended to trivialise the decision to have surgery. They said their summer period was normally their busiest time of year in relation to arranging weight loss surgery and they wanted to ensure that anyone who wished to have surgery in the summer period could be accommodated, rather than having included the wording in an effort to pressurise people into booking weight loss surgery.

They said that although that information about booking capacity had not been included, they did not believe that people would perceive the wording as pressurising, but instead would interpret it as a notification that, as the summer approached, there would less availability for those wishing to book surgery.

They said the ad made it clear that there would be a consultation process and every patient that they spoke to regarding weight loss surgery would go through a rigorous medical consultation process with a qualified surgeon who would determine their suitability for surgery. They said those consultations were free to all patients and they would only take deposits and payments for surgery after a treatment plan had been agreed. They said having surgery was a major decision and, regardless of what the ad stated, they could not conceive that anybody would decide to have surgery solely as a result of having seen the ad.

They said that the reference in the ad to “start your transformation” implied that surgical treatment was a process, not a one-time fix-all solution. They believed that this, together with the reference to a consultation in the advert, showed that they were taking their responsibility to consumers and to society very seriously.

Instagram advised that the ad was no longer appearing.



The CAP Code required marketing communications to be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. The ASA considered that although it would not necessarily be irresponsible to offer promotions for surgical procedures, marketers would need to take particular care when executing and administering them.

We understood that the ad was posted on Tonic Weight Loss Surgery’s own Instagram page, and it was likely it would have mainly been seen by people who were already following them or had an interest in similar content. However, whilst many people who saw the ad were likely to have had an interest in weight loss procedures, not everyone who saw the ad would have already been considering bariatric surgery to assist them in losing weight.

The ad featured an image of a suitcase on the beach with the text, “Last chance! Book your surgery before summer” and was posted in May. We acknowledged that the ad stated, “begin your weight loss journey with Tonic” and noted that consumers had to go through an initial consultation process. However, we considered that consumers would, particularly in the absence of a specific time frame in the ad, interpret the claim “Last chance!” to mean that there was a time-limited opportunity to book an appointment for the bariatric surgery procedure.

We also considered that the accompanying image of the suitcase on the beach further reinforced that impression by suggesting to consumers that if they booked now, they could have completed the surgery and obtained some desired weight loss results in time for the summer holidays.

We considered that surgery should be portrayed as something which required time and thought from consumers, because of the seriousness of a decision to undertake an invasive medical procedure. By advertising “Last chance!” with no indication of a specific time frame, we considered consumers would be rushed into make a decision for fear of losing out on the opportunity to book their surgery. We acknowledged that there was a two-week cooling off period, but did not consider this was relevant to the presentation of the offer in the ad because by that point the consumer had already made a transactional decision to purchase and would therefore be psychologically committed.

Because the ad created a sense of undue urgency to respond quickly, we considered that the ad had not been prepared in a socially responsible manner. We therefore concluded that it breached the Code.

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.  (Social responsibility).


The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd to ensure that future ads were prepared with a sense of responsibility by not creating an undue sense of urgency for consumers considering weight loss surgery.

CAP Code (Edition 12)


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