An insert leaflet for health product catalogue UK Direct Shop, seen on 25 August 2017, advertised copper soles under the brand name “The Original Copper Heeler”. Along the side of the leaflet was a list of conditions that had boxes ticked next to them. Those were “Aching feet; Swollen legs; Back & neck problems; Shoulder problems; Wrinkles; Sagging skin; Poor circulation; Sexual dysfunction; Postural problems; Poor digestive function; Cardiovascular activity”.
The complainant challenged whether the efficacy claims for the Copper Heeler for the relief of the conditions listed in the ad were misleading and could be substantiated.
UK Direct Shop Ltd said they planned to work on new ad copy and would liaise with the CAP Copy Advice service.
The ASA welcomed UK Direct Shop’s offer to change their advertising so that it complied with the CAP Code. We considered that consumers would understand the Copper Heeler could treat the listed conditions. However, because they did not provide any evidence to substantiate the efficacy claims for the various conditions listed, we therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
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.
Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted on people. Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge.
Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.
Secondary medicinal claims made for cosmetic products as defined in the appropriate European legislation must be backed by evidence. These are limited to any preventative action of the product and may not include claims to treat disease. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told UK Direct Shop not to make efficacy claims for their product in the absence of adequate substantiation.