A national press ad, for Transformulas EyeLifting Gel, featured a photograph of a woman's face which had been divided into "Before" and "After 30 seconds" sections. The eye in the "After 30 seconds" section of the face appeared lifted and showed a higher eyebrow than the "Before" section of the face. Text beneath the photograph stated "Instant benefits Essential relief for tired eyes Skin feels tighter and firmer".
The complainant challenged whether the "After 30 seconds" section of the image misleadingly exaggerated the efficacy of the advertised product, because they believed the result was the effect of a raised eyebrow and not the product.
Transformulas provided the original 'before' and 'after' photographs and said they had not been digitally enhanced. They said the lift on the eyebrow was the result of using the advertised product and not a facial movement. They provided a trial on the advertised product and a summary of a trial using Kigelia africana, a constituent ingredient of the advertised product.
The ASA noted the ad showed an image of the effects of the product after 30 seconds. We considered that to substantiate that claim we would need to see evidence which demonstrated that the "After 30 seconds" section of the image accurately represented the effect of the product after a period of 30 seconds.
We examined the original 'Before' and 'After 30 seconds' photographs sent by Transformulas and noted the overall appearance of the woman's face, and in particular, the area around the eyes did not appear significantly different, aside from the fact that the 'After 30 seconds' photo included fewer shadows. Furthermore, we noted the 'Before' photographs already showed the models left eyebrow higher than the right. We also noted the 'Before' and 'After 30 seconds' sections of the image in the ad were of opposite sides of the woman's face and therefore did not provide a representation of the effects of the product on the same area. We were therefore concerned that the "After 30 seconds" section of the image misleadingly represented the efficacy of the advertised product.
We were concerned that the trial of the product itself and of Kigelia africana, did not show the effect of the product after 30 seconds. We were also concerned that the trial using Kigelia africana related only to a single ingredient of the advertised product, was performed on a single person and related to the application of the ingredient to the breast and not the face, as was shown in the ad. We were also concerned that the trial on the product itself did not provide precise details of the methodology, nor the full results, that it was conducted on a sample of 10 participants and relied on a qualitative assessment of the efficacy of the product by the participants. We considered that they were not therefore sufficiently robust to demonstrate the efficacy of the product.
Because the "After 30 seconds" section of the image misleadingly represented the efficacy of the product and because the trials submitted were not sufficiently robust to demonstrate the efficacy of the product, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.
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), 3.11 3.11 Marketing communications must not mislead consumers by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product. (Exaggeration) and 3.47 3.47 Claims that are likely to be interpreted as factual and appear in a testimonial must not mislead or be likely to mislead the consumer. (Endorsements and Testimonials).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Transformulas to ensure 'before' and 'after' photographs accurately represented the efficacy of the advertised product in future.