ASA rules against ad for weight loss aid

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Weight loss, Marketing, Advertising

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has decided that an advert for the supplement LIPObind does make a weight loss claim and ruled that it must not be broadcast until medical evidence supporting that claim is provided.

The ASA said that the advert breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 8.4.2, which covers requirements for medical advice. It stated that the advert “must not be broadcast again without adequate independent medical advice on the efficacy of LIPObind.”

ASA monitoring staff picked up on the ad, which featured images of a woman rubbing bottom and hips and looking in the mirror, as well as a close up of a pack of LIPObind with the words “find your true form”.

They challenged whether the ad implied that LIPObind would help with weight loss and whether the broadcaster had obtained suitably qualified independent medical advice on the efficacy of LIPObind.

Weight loss claim questioned

In defense, the product’s manufacturer Goldshield said that the advert did not make a weight loss claim. On its website LIPObind is marketed as a ‘natural weight loss supplement’.

It said the actress’ actions in the ad merely signified that she was content with her present weight – something which it believed to be entirely consistent with the weight management properties of LIPObind rather than a weight loss claim.

It added that the statement "find your true form"​ was a piece of “classic advertising puffery”, which ​carried no specific meaning and did not suggest weight loss.

This view was shared by broadcaster Clearcast, which said that “find your true form”​ did not necessarily imply weight loss, adding that it thought viewers were “unlikely”​ to attribute prefix LIPO to weight loss.

The ASA disagreed, however, ruling that the advert did imply weight loss. “We considered ad implied the woman had lost weight as demonstrated by the woman rubbing her bottom and hips and looking at herself in the mirror,”​ it stated.

“We noted the close-up of the pack which stated ‘find your true form’. We considered that that phrase could reasonably be interpreted to refer to weight loss and, in conjunction with the images, strongly implied that the woman had lost weight.”

Claim in the name

The ASA added that the name of a product or service may in itself be regarded as a claim. It stated that the name LIPObind places an emphasis on the prefix ‘lipo’, which viewers would associate with liposuction, and therefore weight loss.

Goldshield warned that if the ASA Council decided to ban the use of the word ‘LIPObind’, it would be breaching the EU Medical Device Directive by restricting the sale of a Class IIa Medical Device.

The ASA rejected this argument, however, pointing out that the Directive does not apply to advertising.

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