Patrick Holford’s Appetstop – ASA complaint

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Posted: 23 June 2012 

A consumer lodged a consumer complaint against an Internet advertisement promoting its Patrick Holford’s Appetstop product. The advertisement claims that this product “… provides a combination of herbal ingredients and nutrients that may help to assist in reducing appetite and sugar cravings”. The advertisement also positions the product as beneficial for “Appetite control and healthy weight loss”. Patrick Holford “undertook to remove the claims disputed due to, inter alia, the fact that the product branding and positioning is about to be aligned with the international strategy.” Yep, another way of saying, “drat, I have no proof!”

Appetstop / HA Steinman / 20398
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
More To Life (Pty) Ltd Respondent

22 Jun 2012

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6135

Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against a More to Life Internet advertisement promoting its Appetstop product. The advertising appears on the website http://holforddirect.co.za.

The advertisement claims that this product “… provides a combination of herbal ingredients and nutrients that may help to assist in reducing appetite and sugar cravings”. The advertisement also positions the product as beneficial for “Appetite control and healthy weight loss”.

COMPLAINT
The complainant submitted, in essence, that the claims are unsubstantiated and misleading. He also referred to information contained on the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Data Base, which indicates, inter alia, that HCA (the main ingredient) is “POSSIBLLY INEFFECTIVE” for decreasing weight, satiety, fat oxidation or energy expenditure in obese people.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were considered relevant:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

RESPONSE
Stefan Vos Marketing Regulation Advisors, on behalf of the respondent addressed the merits of the matter but also undertook to remove the claims disputed due to, inter alia, the fact that the product branding and positioning is about to be aligned with the international strategy.

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

The respondent’s undertaking appears to address the complainants’ concerns and there is therefore no need for the Directorate to consider the merits of the matter at this time.

The undertaking is accepted on condition that the claims “Appetite control and healthy weight loss” and “… may help to assist in reducing appetite and sugar cravings” are removed with immediate effect within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and are not used again in future.

While not material at this time, the Directorate notes that the respondent has received at least … adverse rulings in the past six months (refer Mood Food / HA Steinman / 17957 (26 January 2012) and Smart Kids Brain Boost / HA Steinman & Another / 18565 (10 May 2012), for more information). On 13 June 2012, the respondent was also found to have breached the Mood Food ruling, but no sanctions were imposed.

The respondent is cautioned that further adverse rulings (or voluntary undertakings to amend or withdraw its advertising) may potentially result in additional sanctions in terms of Clause 14 of the Procedural Guide being imposed.

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