ASA ruling – Simillimum

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Posted 06 July 2011

A consumer lodged a consumer complaint against an advertisement headed “Get Slim”, which states “Dr FLN Swainston’s remedy for slimmers has been on the market since 1991. It gives faster weight loss results as it repairs the cause of excess fat tissue and strengthens the function of various internal organs.” It further states, “It is more focused and concentrated than natural products found in pharmacies and health shops, for maximum effect. It is also different from other slimming products because it repairs the whole hormonal system, including oestrogen levels, and in so doing repairs the reason for many women’s weight problem. It also repairs and strengthens the function of the excretory organs …”. The advertisement also lists a website www.simillimum.co.za along with other contact details.

In essence, the complainant submitted that the claims made in this advertisement are absurd and improbable, and directly in contravention of the requirements of the Code, such as the need for scientifically based evidence and the requisite mention of having to follow a diet.  

Simillimum / K Charleston / 17529
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Kevin Charleston Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Dr Francesca Swainston Clinic t/a Simillimum Respondent

01 Jul 2011

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=5631

Mr Charleston lodged a consumer complaint against an advertisement that was published in the Weekend Argus during February 2011.

The advertisement is headed “Get Slim” and states “Dr FLN Swainston’s remedy for slimmers has been on the market since 1991. It gives faster weight loss results as it repairs the cause of excess fat tissue and strengthens the function of various internal organs.”

It further states, “It is more focused and concentrated than natural products found in pharmacies and health shops, for maximum effect. It is also different from other slimming products because it repairs the whole hormonal system, including oestrogen levels, and in so doing repairs the reason for many women’s weight problem. It also repairs and strengthens the function of the excretory organs …”. The advertisement also lists a website www.simillimum.co.za along with other contact details.

COMPLAINT
In essence, the complainant submitted that the claims made in this advertisement are absurd and improbable, and directly in contravention of the requirements of the Code, such as the need for scientifically based evidence and the requisite mention of having to follow a diet.

According to the complainant, a similar advertisement also appears on www.kidshealth.co.za, and that this advertisement is also accessible via the respondent’s Simillimum website.

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

• Appendix E – Advertising for slimming

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted, inter alia, that the advertisement in question will not be repeated and that the website advertisement has been amended.

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 not publish the complained of advertisement and to amend its website addresses the complainant’s concerns, there is no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter.

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.

The respondent’s attention is, however, expressly drawn to the provisions of Clause 4.1 of Section II insofar as substantiation is concerned, as well as the requirements of Appendix E, which deals with products of this nature to a large extent.

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23 Responses to ASA ruling – Simillimum

  1. jean lombard 13 November, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    The advertisement still appears in its original form in TYD the magazine which is published and sold as part of RAPPORT every Sunday.

  2. Hilda Coetzee 7 May, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    The advertisement still appears – May 2012 issue of Rooi Rose.

  3. Harris 7 May, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Thank you!
    According to Rooi Rose, they did not know the product’s claims were still “banned” by the ASA, but they stated that they will remove the claims from future magazines except for a few upcoming ones, where the issue has already been set. Roo Rose falls under Caxton publishers. Let us see if they can be trusted.

  4. Fransie Davel 20 August, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    The advertisement still appears – Rooi Rose September 2012

  5. Beatrice Cloete 21 August, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    The advertisement still appears – Sept 2012 issue of Rooi Rose
    Why if there is a court ruling against it?

  6. Harris 21 August, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Thanks for letting us know. The reason Rooi Rose has accepted the advert is because they want the money! Consumers come second.

  7. Sim 29 August, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Perhaps Rooi Rose believes in freedom of speech. Everything stated in the advert has been previously published, and in the last 10 years natural therapies are known to have these physiological effects, a search on the internet is a quick way to verify this. This is not a fat burning productbut a general wellness product and if anyone read the book about the background to its development which is part of the advert being objected to, they would understand that everything stated in the advert is correct and therefore should be shared with the public.

  8. Kevin Charleston 31 August, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    @Sim Perhaps you can explain your relationship to Swainston? Swainston agreed with the ASA that the claims would not be made again. To make these same claims repeatedly means that Swainston has broken that agreement. This is someone whose word obviously means nothing to them.

    Swainston has the opportunity to prove and substantiate the efficacy claims. Swainston has chosen not to do so. Claiming that the internet supports any argument is ridiculous – anyone believing in UFOs, Sasquatch, Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Invisible Pink Unicorns or even Russell’s Teapotcan merely point to the internet and claim proof? That’s kindergarten logic. If you want to sell products in the real world – substantiate that they work in the real world – or stop.

    Rooi Rose publishing this advert is not free speech. It is not free speech to sell blatant lies as the truth. Rooi Rose belongs to the Magazine Publishers Association of SA – which is binds all of its members to the ASA regulations. Rooi Rose are at fault for publishing this, just as much as the advertiser is at fault for making insupportable claims.

  9. Driekie Stander 7 October, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    The advert still appears in the Rooi Rose of October 2012. there is also an advert for the cure of sinus. Is this legal and does the medicine work? I desperately need to get rid of sinus, because it has taken over my life. Please advise.

  10. T de Wet 9 October, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I would also want to know IF the products work, or not! Please advise!

  11. Harris 9 October, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    There is no proof that this product works.

  12. Suzette 20 December, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    please let me know about the sinus

  13. Vanessa 27 January, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Rapport 27/01/2013 – The advertisement in its original format still appears in the paper.

  14. Hilda Coetzee 7 March, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    The ad appeared last week in an issue of DIE BURGER.

  15. Harris 7 March, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    @Hilda
    Thank you – as there is an ASA ruling, the company may not use these false claims, which means that can you trust a company who continues to do so?

  16. Kevin 7 March, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Thanks Hilda. I have already lodged another breach complaint with the ASA. It would appear that Ms. Swainston is an incorrigible fabulist. She has ignored the ASA’s ruling on an earlier breach complaint claiming that she couldn’t do anything because the adverts had been booked far in advance. This blatant ducking and diving is one characteristic of a charlatan.

    The claims she makes for the product are unsubstantiated and she has no proof of efficacy.

    http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6363

  17. susanna 21 April, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    I saw the exact same ad in Essentials mag, April 2013 this evening and just did a search to check for complaints. It seems that the ad continues to be used as is.

  18. Kevin 22 April, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Thanks Susanna. I’ll check it out and lodge another breach complaint.

  19. Rene 25 April, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Has anyone tried this product. I have ordered it & will have to judge based on the results. The add is in the tabletalk today.

  20. Roxanne 9 May, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Hi Rene, is the product working for you?

  21. Sarah Autanza Blair 20 May, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Hi – I used this product in 1999 and had amazing results. I was so impressed with the product I was her agent in KZN and the response was overwhelming. Clients phoned in claiming it was helping menopausal complaints, Irritable Bowel Syndrome etc. I left to go to the UK for a couple of years and had to hand the agency over to another agent. I still think of this product and what a little miracle bottle it was. I have read this post in total disbelief that someone actually sued Francesca over this product. This lady is a qualified lady who does a lot less damage then all Medical Companies that are legally allowed to poison us with drugs. You still have people in KZN who remember Natruslim and give it thumbs up.

    • Harris 20 May, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      @Sarah
      I am pleased that the product worked for you, but I suspect it was thanks to a strong placebo response. Advertisers need to ensure that their product works above and beyond a placebo response, and this company could not.

  22. Moira 26 May, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

    Ive bought this product and only seen all this uproar now when I googled it. I hope I havent wasted my money. They advertised this slimmers products on pg 125 of this months Food & Home magazine. June 2015

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