ASA Ruling: Revivo Tea

Posted: 21 October 2011

In Revivo Tea / M Low / 18020 (8 September 2011) the Directorate accepted the respondent’s voluntary undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised by the complainant. The undertaking was accepted for the respondent’s advertising on its website www.revivotea.com which promoted the Revivo Herbal Tea. The issue related to certain testimonials used by the respondent, which made reference to the products effect on the user’s HIV status, their CD4 count and their viral load.

The complainant specifically identified the following examples, which the respondent undertook to remove: “I started using Revivo capsules after I found out I was HIV positive in October last year. In November I bought a bottle. After 3 bottles of one month supply I did a second test for cd4s and viral loads. In October my cd4 was 185 and viral loads was 68000 but after the second test my cd4 count was 324 and viral loads undetectable. Revivo is a really booster. I would recommend those who are positive to go for it. With this booster I don’t think people should be afraid to die of Aids anymore. It is expensive but it’s worth it… Try it and see …” “I am over the moon to inform you how REVIVO has changed my life. I was diagnosed HIV positive June 2008 with CD4 count of 386 & I started using Revivo 2009. November 2010 I went for the PCR and bDNA viral load test and the results were undetectable. That did not mean that there are not viruses in my blood, it meant that there are not enough for the test to detect. I am overwhelmed with REVIVO”.

Revivo Tea / M Low / 18020
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Marcus Low Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Aconite Medical Suppliers cc Respondent

21 Oct 2011

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5795

In Revivo Tea / M Low / 18020 (8 September 2011) the Directorate accepted the respondent’s voluntary undertaking to withdraw or amend its advertising in a manner that addresses the concerns raised by the complainant. The undertaking was accepted for the respondent’s advertising on its website www.revivotea.com which promoted the Revivo Herbal Tea. The issue related to certain testimonials used by the respondent, which made reference to the products effect on the user’s HIV status, their CD4 count and their viral load.

The complainant specifically identified the following examples, which the respondent undertook to remove:

“I started using Revivo capsules after I found out I was HIV positive in October last year. In November I bought a bottle. After 3 bottles of one month supply I did a second test for cd4s and viral loads. In October my cd4 was 185 and viral loads was 68000 but after the second test my cd4 count was 324 and viral loads undetectable. Revivo is a really booster. I would recommend those who are positive to go for it. With this booster I don’t think people should be afraid to die of Aids anymore. It is expensive but it’s worth it… Try it and see …”

“I am over the moon to inform you how REVIVO has changed my life. I was diagnosed HIV positive June 2008 with CD4 count of 386 & I started using Revivo 2009. November 2010 I went for the PCR and bDNA viral load test and the results were undetectable. That did not mean that there are not viruses in my blood, it meant that there are not enough for the test to detect. I am overwhelmed with REVIVO”.

SUBSEQUENT TO THIS RULING
During October 2011, the complainant lodged a breach complaint against the respondent’s website www.revivotea.com. It submitted that even though the testimonials quoted in the initial complaint have been removed or changed, those currently on the website are essentially similar, and therefore indicates a breach of the ruling.

The complainant identified the following examples, found at the respondent’s website (quotes are verbatim):

“I have much more energy, I don’t get colds or flu any more, my *** count has gone from *** to *** & for the first time in 3.5 years Ive been on ARVs I now get strong erections & Im having sex again!”

“I just also wanted to let you know that I managed to buy two bottles of Revivo, one for me and one for my sister who is also HIV positive. We both started using it on 7th December but I am telling you this treatment is so powerful interms of bringing back strength and appetite. I used to have some fingers swelling every morning and my feet were always painfull every morning also had strange headache but right now I am telling you all these feelings have gone and I am eating normally. I can do all my work, never gets tired than before. My sister also is complementing good work for Revivo since she started using it. Although it is expensive but Revivo is super!!!”

“Since I find out that I am *** ******** I started searching on my computer there I came across the name Revivo.

I bought a bottle before I even know about my *** count. I was feeling tired always. As a very active person then I suspected something was wrong. I have less than a month using Revivo and I can feel the different. I feel strong and active at my work.

Thank you Revivo I wont stop using this tablets, I even tell other people about it not only those who have *** but those who have immune problems”.

“I feel like sharing this testimony with friends and colleagues, I started using Revivo tablets, August 2009 my *** was 221 and I was coughing a lot also had no apetite, I started using Revivo on December 2009, then February 2010 I went for *** again my *** is now 361. My apetite is back and Im gaining weight.”

The complainant argued that the asterisks used are insufficient as ARV’s and HIV are still mentioned, thus still creating this context. The complainant added that the provisions of Appendix F should also be kept in mind.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the breach allegation the Directorate considered Clause 15 of the Procedural Guide (Enforcement of rulings) as relevant.

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted, inter alia, that the testimonials referred to that mentioned HIV and ARVs were supposed to have been removed by the website development company. This was an honest mistake that will be rectified.

While it does not agree with the opinion regarding the use of asterisks, it will nevertheless remove these testimonials from the website so as to eliminate any ambiguity and inference.

Approximately 30 minutes later, further correspondence from the respondent was received, confirming that the testimonials at issue have been removed. Clearly this was not an intentional breach as the relevant testimonials were not newly added, and were present at the time of the complaint. All testimonials containing asterisks have also been removed.

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

Firstly, the Directorate has to determine whether or not the testimonial are materially similar to those initial ruled against.

Secondly, the Directorate is currently only tasked with determining whether the respondent is in breach of the previous ASA Directorate ruling. Therefore the Directorate cannot consider the merits of the original complaint while dealing with the breach allegation. It should be noted, however, that the provisions of Appendix F were initially cited as relevant, as appears from the original correspondence to the respondent as well as the Directorate ruling.

The Directorate had observed that out of all the testimonials found on the website, one makes mention of HIV and another one makes mention of ARVs.

Considering the testimonials now identified by the complainant, the Directorate is satisfied that they are likely to create a context of referring to HIV and AIDS and the respondent’s product’s efficacy insofar as this disease is concerned. The Directorate can also not ignore the fact that the respondent’s original advertising also had very strong associations with this disease, and as such there would likely be some transference in that people might still recollect the original website (similar to the situation as discussed in Glo Mobi Ring Tones / M R Kimmie & Another / 11731 (17 February 2009), which referred back to Radio 702 / Mr G Hyland & Others / 3514, 3516 (6 April 2001).)

The Directorate is also of opinion that the asterisks used are, at best, a disingenuous attempt to circumvent the implications of the original ruling. It does not take an extraordinary leap of logic to figure out which words have been “hidden” by the asterisks. While the respondent has now immediately rectified the situation, this action is belated. Had it not been for the breach allegation these testimonials may well have remained on the respondent’s website indefinitely.

Given the above, it is clear that the respondent was in breach of Clause 15 of the Procedural Guide. The respondent is again instructed to permanently remove the relevant testimonials from its website with immediate effect.

It is also noted, with some concern, that in Revivo Tea / P linzer / 13898 (20 August 2009) the respondent was found against on the basis that it was making claims relating to AIDS in contravention of Appendix F of the Code. In a subsequent ruling on this matter, dated 29 June 2011, the respondent was found in breach in relation to its “Google ad”, which contained similar claims. At this time, no sanction was imposed. This ruling also specifically notes that the respondent sent an unsolicited email which referred to advice received from its legal counsel that “… the testimonials on our website and some other content may be in breach of the advertising code and are thus removing those testimonials which reference HIV or AIDS or cd4 count … it is our intention to comply with the code …”

Despite this, however, such testimonials formed the subject of the Directorate’s ruling on 8 September 2011, where the respondent undertook to remove the relevant testimonials. Now the respondent has again been found in breach because it continued to use similar claims in its advertising.

This appears to show a pattern of contravening the provisions of the Code and/or existing rulings.

As such, the complainant in the current matter (Mr Low) is afforded ten working days from the date of this ruling to comment on whether or not sanctions in terms of Clause 14 of the Procedural Guide should be imposed, and if so, which sanctions. After this, the respondent will be afforded an equal opportunity after which the Directorate will consider the issue of sanctions in accordance with the provisions of the Code.

The breach allegation is therefore upheld, and the Directorate awaits the parties’ comments on sanctions.

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2 Responses to ASA Ruling: Revivo Tea

  1. Buti 15 October, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    I am on ARV would like to know if I should use Revivo to boost my immune system and live a better life

  2. Harris 15 October, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    @Buti
    There is not enough evidence to show that Revivo has any benefits. There is also no evidence to show whether it is safe to use Revivo with ARVs.

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