ASA Ruling: T4 Pro Balance Bracelet

Mr Stuart lodged a consumer complaint against Tech 4 Balance print advertisement promoting T4 Pro Balance bracelet. The advertisement appeared in the August 2010 edition of Men’s Health magazine. (Website: http://www.t4probalance.com/)

The advertisement contains, inter alia, the wording “Wearing T4 Pro Balance bracelet immediately improves balance, flexibility, strength, range of motion and general performance.” The words “increased balance and strength”, “superior flexibility and range of motion” and “enhanced performance” also appear on the advertisement.

The Power Balance is a similar device (website: http://www.powerbalance.com/southafrica/). 

T4 Pro Balance Bracelet / B Stuart / 16180

Ruling of the : ASA Directorate In the matter between:

Mr Barry Maitland-Stuart Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)

T4 Energy (Pty) Ltd t/a Tech 4 Balance Respondent 

20 Sep 2010

Mr Stuart lodged a consumer complaint against Tech 4 Balance print advertisement promoting T4 Pro Balance bracelet. The advertisement appeared in the August 2010 edition of Men’s Health magazine. 

The advertisement contains, inter alia, the wording “Wearing T4 Pro Balance bracelet immediately improves balance, flexibility, strength, range of motion and general performance.” The words “increased balance and strength”, “superior flexibility and range of motion” and “enhanced performance” also appear on the advertisement. 

COMPLAINT
In essence, the complainant submitted that the packaging contravenes Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code. 

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
The complainant cited Clause 4.1 of Section II (substantiation) of the Code as relevant. 

RESPONSE
Eversheds attorneys, on behalf of the respondent submitted arguments on the merits of the matter and details about the “scalar technology” on which the device is based. However, it added that it would amend the claim on its advertisements to read “users report that wearing T4 Pro Balance bracelets increase balance, flexibility, strength, range of motion and general performance”. 

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

The ASA Directorate considered 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, that undertaking is accepted without considering the merits of the matter. 

In Biobust / Dr H A Steinman / 3247 (14 September 2010) the Directorate considered similar amendments and ruled as follows: 

“The difference between the previous claims and the amended claims is the insertion of the words ‘may assist’. In terms of the Oxford Dictionary Thesaurus & Wordpower Guide the word ‘may’ means expressing possibility and ‘assist’ means help. 

Therefore it is the Directorate’s view that the amended claims amount to a new complaint because it was not previously considered in this context”. 

A similar approach is justified in this matter. Effectively, the respondent’s amendments shift the interpretation of the advertisement from “it will work” to “people perceive it to work”, which is a somewhat different claim and will be interpreted differently by the hypothetical reasonable person. 

The respondent’s undertaking therefore appears to address the specific concern raised, and is accepted as a resolution thereto. Any dispute over the veracity of the amended claim would be a new dispute that would be investigated according to the ASA procedures. 

The undertaking is accepted on condition that the claims disputed are not used again in future in their current format. 

For the guidance of the respondent the Directorate draws attention to the fact that the requirements of Clause 4.1.3 of Section II (Survey data) as well as Clause 10 of Section II of the Code (Testimonials) would arguably apply to the amended claims. 

The respondent’s attention is also drawn to Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide insofar as the withdrawal of the original claims are concerned

2 Responses to ASA Ruling: T4 Pro Balance Bracelet

  1. Kevin 7 January, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Interesting to note that their website still claims "Pro Balance bracelets are designed to enhance ones life and perfect performance! Pro Balance is Life Technology".  My understanding is that the ASA ruling should apply to all forms of advertising (including websites).  Any thoughts?  

  2. Harris 7 January, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    @Kevin: you are absolutely correct. However the ASA does not monitor its rulings or the advertising of companies – for "enforcement" it depends on the original complainant or others, to lay a new charge or one of breach of a previous ruling, for the ASA to consider the fact that the company has not amended its advertising (print media, tv, website, flyers, etc.) A follow-up complaint was lodged with the ASA yesterday.

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