ASA pulls 2 Vitabiotics ads in UK
In the first ad for Vitabiotics vitamin supplements Wellman and Wellwoman, the company referenced professor Arnold Beckett. The text at the bottom of the screen stated, "prof Beckett is cited as a product inventor and former Vitabiotics chairman, not as a health professional".
However, ASA said the ad breaches the CAP code, that prohibits the use of health claims referring to the recommendation of an individual health professional in ads for foods or food supplements. ASA believed that the reference to professor Beckett as theproduct inventor following the specific claim about iron emphasised the health claim in the ad.
Vitabiotics: "We disagree"
Vitabiotics' vice president, Robert Taylor, told NutraIngredients: “We disagree with the ASA's decision regarding Article 12, since professor Beckett was not making any health claim, nor was he ever a health professional, nor does the advert contain a health claim that makes reference to a recommendation.”
“Vitabiotics believes that it should be able to simply state that professor Beckett was its Chairman and helped develop its products, a role which he relished for the last 18 years of his life," he added.
Clearcast, an NGO which pre-approves most UK TV ads did not believe that the reference to professor Beckett was a recommendation by a health professional. Instead, it saw it as an endorsement of the company, highlighting its scientific pedigree.
However, Owen Warnock, solicitor at Eversheds, was not surprised by ASA’s decision.
“This ruling just shows that it is very difficult to make any reference to any health professional if there is any form of health claim. It’s very hard to do no matter how much you try separate the professional and the claim,” he said.
'Menopause is just a stage of life, not a medical condition'
The second ad, which appeared in the national press, stated: "MENOPAUSE? This is not HRT. Many thousands of women have discovered the comprehensive daily support of Menopace micronutrients. Specially formulated by experts, it is ideal whether or not you are on HRT and can be taken for as long as required".
ASA decided to ban the ad in this form as it believed it breached the CAP code buy making an unauthorised health claim under the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).
“We considered that the overall impression of the ad was that the product regulated hormonal activity for menopausal women and could improve any associated negative symptoms that they were experiencing, and therefore considered that the ad made an implied health claim," said ASA.
In its defense Vitabiotics stated that menopause was just a stage of life rather than a medical condition. It also added that claims, "Many thousands of women have discovered the comprehensive daily support of Menopace micronutrients", "It is ideal whether or not you are on HRT" and "This is not HRT", were factual statements, rather than health claims.
In this case Warnock again didn’t think ASA was going too far beyond the NHCR with its verdicts.