REVIVO Capsules – ASA ruling

Posted 14 February 2017

A consumer lodged a consumer complaint against Revivo’s advertising. The website claims, inter alia, as follows:

“Used by celebrities, top athletes & royalty all over the world to fight immune illness and boost general health, [it] represents the ultimate in immune support and anti-aging and is now available for you to use as well”.

“Scientifically proven to make you live longer”.

“Delays the aging process and stops death of immune cells”.

“Builds healthy blood and fights viruses and cancer”.

The complainant submitted that he has searched credible medical databases and cannot find any evidence to support any of the claims made. He adds that even the ingredients contained in the product were researched, and there is no proof of their effectiveness as an immunity booster, particularly not in the dosages used in this product formulation.

REVIVO CAPSULES / H Steinman / 2016-4529F

Ruling of the: ASA Directorate

In the matter between:

DR HARRIS STEINMAN Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)

ACONITE MEDICAL SUPPLIERS CC Respondent

01 February 2017

http://www.asasa.org.za/rulings/revivocapsules-hsteinman-2016-4529f

Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s advertising appearing on http://revivocapsules.com/sa/product.php.

The website claims, inter alia, as follows:

  • “Used by celebrities, top athletes & royalty all over the world to fight immune illness and boost general health, [it] represents the ultimate in immune support and anti-aging and is now available for you to use as well”.
  • “Scientifically proven to make you live longer”.
  • “Delays the aging process and stops death of immune cells”.
  • “Builds healthy blood and fights viruses and cancer”.

Towards the bottom of the page it adds:

“Revivo is NOT like other immune system supplements. The ingredients in Revivo together have 3 main benefits rather than just one:

  • It strengthens and supports the immune system.
  • It reduces the side-effects of conventional drugs used in autoimmune weakness conditions.
  • It address [sic] many of the symptoms of immune weakness such as fatigue, diarrhea [sic], poor sleep, rashes, night sweats, thrush etc.”

The packaging shown on the page contains the words “Herbal Dietary Supplement”.

COMPLAINT

The complainant submitted that he has searched credible medical databases and cannot find any evidence to support any of the claims made. He adds that even the ingredients contained in the product were researched, and there is no proof of their effectiveness as an immunity booster, particularly not in the dosages used in this product formulation.

He added that the product is promoted as a “herbal dietary supplement”, but actually falls under Complementary Medicine Law, meaning that proof is required that the respondent has applied for registration.

RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

The complainant identified Clause 4.1 of Section II (Substantiation) as applicable to this dispute.

RESPONSE

The respondent submitted as follows:

“I have forwarded your correspondence to the head office which is located in the US. all marketing is done from there and the office here in South Africa is only for distribution and customer service, it is not an advertising and marketing office.

Someone from the US marketing office will contact you or alternatively you can correspond directly with the head office at email [email protected]

Thanking you

Revivo Team”.

The Directorate subsequently reminded the respondent that no response had yet been received and that it would rule based on the information at hand. However, no further correspondence was received from either the respondent or its US-based supplier.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING

The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

The first issue to clarify is why the ASA regards the respondent cited above as the appropriate entity to address this matter.

Clause 4.7 of Section I of the Code defines an “Advertiser” as “… the entity, commercial or otherwise, at whose instance the advertising appears”.

When one clicks on the “BUY ONLINE WITH PAYFAST” banner, the page redirects to the respondent’s http://www.aconitemedical.com/collections/herbs/revivo page, which again provides the respondent’s company name and contact details. In addition, in previous matters (refer Revivo Tea / P Linzer / 13898 (20 August 2009, and 29 June 2011), and Revivo Tea / M Low / 18020 (7 September 2011, 21 October 2011 and 5 January 2012) for previous examples), the respondent accepted responsibility for the advertising content.

From the above, the Directorate is satisfied that the advertising at issue appears “at the instance” of the respondent as cited above and that payment received would benefit the respondent.

The Directorate therefore regards the respondent as the responsible “advertiser” for the purpose of this ruling.

The only remaining consideration is whether or not the respondent has submitted sufficient evidence for the claims made.

The claims are clearly capable of objective verification, meaning that they are subject to the provisions of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code. These provisions require advertisers to hold documentary evidence that supports all direct and/or indirect claims being made. In addition, these provisions requires such verification to emanate from, or have been evaluated by an independent, credible expert in the field to which the claims relate.

No such evidence has been submitted, meaning that there is nothing before the Directorate to show that the claims have any scientific backing, or that an independent expert has evaluated evidence that supports the claims.

In the absence of any substantiation as contemplated in Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code, the Directorate has no alternative but to find that the respondent’s claims are unsubstantiated and in contravention of Clause 4.1 of Section II.

The respondent is therefore instructed to:

Withdraw the advertising that gave rise to this dispute;

Ensure that this withdrawal is actioned with immediate effect;

Ensure that the withdrawal is completed within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide; and

Refrain from using the claims ruled against in future.

The complaint is upheld.

It is also noted, with some concern, that the respondent has been ruled against on several occasions (as is evident from the rulings listed above). Most recently (refer Revivo / Capsules / H Steinman / 2016-4530F (17 October 2016) for context) the respondent was also ruled against on the basis of non-existing substantiation. It therefore appears that the respondent has a habit of making unsubstantiated claims to the detriment of consumers, and that it has not made an effort to learn from previous ASA rulings.

Clause 15.4 of the Procedural Guide reads:

“Should the respondent ignore a reasonable request for co-operation, the ASA will issue an Ad Alert to its members (including newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the Printing Industries Federation)”.

The respondent’s repeated breach of the ASA Code and apparent exploitation of consumers appear to constitute ignorance of “… a reasonable request for co-operation …”

The Directorate will therefore issue an Ad Alert to its members, asking them not to accept any advertising for the respondent’s product making the claims referred to above.

One Response to REVIVO Capsules – ASA ruling

  1. Ben 7 July, 2020 at 9:23 pm #

    Revivo capsules are being advertised as described in your article, on Facebook.
    I saw an advert a few minutes ago.

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