ASA Ruling: Herbex Immune Defence Syrup

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Posted: 17 February 2012

A consumer lodged a consumer complaint against internet advertising for Herbex Immune Defence syrup. The advertisement states, inter alia, “herbex immune defence is a powerful syrup containing herbs and vitamins to improve the health of the whole family. A weak immune system may lead to illness, colds, flu and infections.”

Herbex Immune Defence Syrup / HA Steinman / 19483
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Herbex cc Respondent


15 Feb 2012

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5955

Doctor Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against internet advertising for Herbex Immune Defence syrup. The advertising featured on the following URL: http://www.herbexhealth.com/products/products_immune.htm.

When the link is accessed the advertisement states, inter alia, “herbex immune defence is a powerful syrup containing herbs and vitamins to improve the health of the whole family. A weak immune system may lead to illness, colds, flu and infections.”

It further lists the ingredients and its benefits as follows:

“hydrasis Canadensis
Is considered a natural antibiotic

Echinacea
Enhances the activity of the immune system, relieves pain and reduces inflammation

pelargonium
Has anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities

olive leaf
Has anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities

sutherlandia adaptogen
is used against numerous ailments, including colds and flu”

The complainant added that similar claims were made on a YouTube video seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1Zq1lFKUjE

COMPLAINT
In essence, the complainant submitted that the name of the product suggests that it is able to have an impact on the immunity of an individual and protect against diseases. Furthermore, that the claims for the product are misleading and require substantiation.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were taken into account:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted that the product was discontinued in August 2011 and all active advertising ceased of the same period last year. The advertising in question namely the YouTube clip and the information webpage were removed on the 27 January 2012.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

The ASA has a long standing principle which holds that where an advertiser provides an unequivocal undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised, the undertaking is accepted without considering the merits of the matter.

As the respondent’s undertaking to remove the advertising addresses the complainant’s concerns, there is no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter.

The Directorate visited the Herbex Health website and confirmed that the product is no longer advertised. It is also no longer on the link:

http://www.herbexhealth.com/products/products_immune.htm.

The undertaking is therefore accepted on condition that the advertising is withdrawn in its current format within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and is not used again in future.

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