Posted 04 August 2011
Readers will be aware that there has been numerous ASA rulings against this product's claims, and other variants being sold by the same individual, Johan Brittz, who lives in the very expensive area of Llandudno.
Here the complainant argued that the same unsubstantiated claims are being made and that the owner is flagrantly ignoring the ASA's rulings.
Organo Slim / A Blom / 16330
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Andrie Blom Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Boundlesstrade 149 (Pty) Ltd t/a Organo-Slim Respondent
04 Aug 2011
In Organo Slim / A Blom / 16330 (20 May 2011) the Directorate ruled, inter alia, that the respondent was in breach of its ruling of 16 November 2010, due to the fact that the respondent’s advertisement promoting its “Organo Slim” product was still making use of unsubstantiated weight loss claims.
The complainant and the respondent were afforded an opportunity to comment on whether or not sanctions in terms of Clause 14 of the Procedural Guide were appropriate.
RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light previous ruling and the invitation for comments on sanctions, Clause 14 of the Procedural Guide (Sanctions) was taken into account.
COMPLAINANT’S COMMENTS ON SANCTIONS
The complainant submitted, inter alia, that it is clear that the respondent continued to flagrantly ignore the ASA Directorate rulings and continued to make claims for products that cannot be substantiated.
The complainant requested the ASA Directorate to impose the most stringent sanctions against the respondent.
RESPONDENT’S COMMENTS ON SANCTIONS
The respondent, by means of an email from one “S Sackstein” submitted a response dealing with the merits of the complaint, which was dealt with in the previous rulings, rather than addressing the issue of sanctions.
It submitted, inter alia, that the ASA rules make it impossible to advertise a weight loss product and that the ASA expects the respondent to have done very expensive trials.
The respondent submitted, inter alia, that the product has been working for over 17 years and it has thousands of people who have used the product successfully.
The respondent attached photos of “Before and After” from Greg Stuart and Willem Greef as proof that the product works.
It submitted, inter alia, that it is at loss as to how to advertise its product in such a way that would meet the ASA approval and at the same time be able to get enough of a response from the advertisement to firstly cover cost of advertising as well as making a living. It would appreciate any suggestions, help, or guidance the ASA can give.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.
It is should firstly be noted that the respondent did not address the complainant’s comments on sanction particularly the request for stringent sanction to be imposed but argued the merits and efficacy of its product. This has already dealt with and the respondent’s claims were found to be unsubstantiated. It is also concerning to note that this appears to be a pattern for the respondent as is evident from all previous rulings relating to the respondent (See all rulings under reference Organo Slim / A Blom / 16330 as well as all rulings under reference Be-Trim / L de Weerdt / 8660).
It should be noted that the ASA is not permitted to give copy advice, or pre-clear advertising.
The Directorate is therefore only tasked with determining whether or not sanctions are appropriate at this stage and which sanction, if any, to impose against the respondent.
In considering sanctions, the Directorate takes into account several factors, most notably the nature of the contravention, any history the respondent has with the ASA, as well as possible harm done to consumers or competitors as a result of non-compliance.
The Directorate is mindful of the fact that the respondent has been ruled against more than once within a period of 12 (twelve) months. The relevant rulings are,
Organo Slim / A Blom / 16330 (16 November 2010), where the Directorate stated, inter alia, as follows:
“While technically speaking these rulings relate to what appears to be a different product, the Directorate cannot ignore the fact that the respondent is now, effectively using the same, unsubstantiated marketing campaign for a “new” product despite repeated reference to the requirements of independent and credible substantiation in all previous rulings. This indicates a deliberate attempt to circumvent the principles contained in the Code of Advertising Practice”.
Be-Trim / L de Weerdt / 8660 (20 May 2011), another ruling where the respondent was found to have breached an existing ASA ruling. In this ruling, the Directorate also pointed out the following:
“Despite the fact that the respondent has been taken to task for this before (refer the rulings in this matter dated 24 May 2007, 15 September 2009 and 2 December 2009), it has continued unabated to claim incredible weight loss without any evidence”.
Organo Slim / A Blom / 16330 (20 May 2011) the breach ruling that prompted this ruling considering sanctions.
It is apparent from the above that the respondent has shown a deliberate disregard for the Code and has not shown any effort to comply with the ASA Directorate rulings regarding weight loss claims. It should also be noted that the www.organoslim.co.za website appears to have remained unchanged despite the rulings issued in November 2010 and May 2011.
Accordingly, the Directorate, at its discretion, imposes a sanction on the respondent in terms of Clause 14.3 of the Procedural Guide. In terms of this sanction, the respondent is required to submit all future advertising for any of its products to the ACA Advisory Service for approval prior to publication, at the cost of the respondent.
It is noted that this sanction is normally imposed for a period of six. However, from the above it is clear that all previous rulings relate to the respondent’s weight loss products, and appear to indicate no material intention to comply with the requirements of the Code or the implications of existing adverse rulings. In addition, the tendency of making unsubstantiated claims will arguably bring advertising as a whole, or at the very least within the Complementary and Alternative Medicine industry into disrepute.
As such, the Directorate, at its discretion, imposes this sanction for a period of 12 months following the date of this ruling.
In light of the above, an Ad-Alert will be sent to all ASA members advising them of this sanction, asking them not to accept any advertising for the respondent unless accompanied by a pre-approval certificate from the ACA Advisory Service.