A magazine ad, for the Ionic Bracelet, was headed "Get rid of aches and pains by wearing this incredible bracelet".
Below, text stated "Try the Ionic Bracelet and see for yourself its incredible effects. The results are amazing. . You should wear it on the left wrist, with the little balls facing downwards if you suffer from menstrual pains, tachycardia, phlebitis, varicose veins, circulatory complaints, a tendency to obesity, digestive problems or constipation … After fifteen days, you will find that your well-being has been permanently restored … rediscover the pleasure of a pain-free life".
IntraMed Ltd t/a Health and Harmony Direct St Lukes House London Road Copford CO6 1BJ
Number of complaints: 2
Date: 11 February 2009
Media: Magazine Sector: Health and beauty Ad
A magazine ad, for the Ionic Bracelet, was headed "Get rid of aches and pains by wearing this incredible bracelet". Below, text stated "Try the Ionic Bracelet and see for yourself its incredible effects. The results are amazing. Thousands of users tell us that they are now pain-free because of the Ionic Bracelet … The Ionic Bracelet is made from a mixture of special metal alloys. Those who wear it have felt their pain disappear and notice an improvement in their health – within just a few hours … According to all the feedback we are getting from customers, the Ionic Bracelet's healing effects are so spectacular you just won't believe it at first! … You will be totally amazed at how the pain diminishes and then completely fades away …
The Ionic Bracelet consistently maintains the ionisation of your entire body at its optimum level. As soon as you receive your bracelet, wear it immediately on your right wrist with the balls facing upwards if you suffer from rheumatic or arthritic pains, tension, nervousness, headaches, depression, insomnia, stress, impotence, muscular pains, respiratory problems (bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma) and tiredness. You should wear it on the left wrist, with the little balls facing downwards if you suffer from menstrual pains, tachycardia, phlebitis, varicose veins, circulatory complaints, a tendency to obesity, digestive problems or constipation …
After fifteen days, you will find that your well-being has been permanently restored … rediscover the pleasure of a pain-free life". The ad also included a number of customer testimonials, which stated "… (I) tried the Ionic Bracelet and before long I had got rid of my walking stick! … I have experienced a huge improvements with my headaches … The severe arthritic pains in my shoulder which I have suffered for more than 20 years have gradually lessened and enabled me to do things I could not do before … the pains in my lower back have disappeared … I no longer suffered from sciatica … After one hour my headaches had disappeared and I felt an increase of energy … my wife found that she no longer had difficulty breathing and that the pains in her neck had disappeared … I must admit that my pains have completely disappeared … The pains I had in both hips disappeared after three weeks …".
Issue A reader challenged whether:
1. the efficacy claims for the Ionic Bracelet could be substantiated, and
2. the testimonials were genuine. The ASA challenged whether:
3. the testimonials misleadingly implied efficacy, and
4. the ad was irresponsible, because it might discourage readers from seeking properly qualified medical advice about serious medical conditions such as depression, asthma and circulatory complaints.
The CAP Code: 2.2;3.1;7.1;7.2;14.1;14.3;50.1;50.3
IntraMed said the Ionic Bracelet was not a medical device as generally understood by that term but based on ancient principles of balance and healing. They said they were therefore unable to supply the type of substantiation the ASA required to show efficacy, other than copies of customer testimonials. They believed the bracelet was well regarded all over the world, except in the UK. Assessment
The ASA noted IntraMeds assertion that the Ionic Bracelet was not a medical device but considered that the ad presented the bracelet as a product that could treat serious medical conditions, such as depression and arthritis, and could produce a physiological effect on digestion and circulation. We were concerned that IntraMed had made such claims for an unregistered product, notwithstanding the fact that they had failed to substantiate them. On this point, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Medical and scientific claims).
2. & 3. Upheld
We noted CAP Code clause 14.3 stated that testimonials alone did not constitute substantiation and the opinions in them must be supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy. We also noted the testimonials used in the ad were translations of letters from customers in Germany and France, but the ad claimed the testimonials came from customers in the UK, such as Godalming, Romsey and Leicester. Because the testimonials had been wrongly attributed and IntraMed was unable to provide substantiation to support the claims of efficacy contained within them, we concluded that the testimonials were misleading. On these points, the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness), 14.1 and 14.3 (Testimonials) and 50.1 (Medical and scientific claims).
We were concerned that the ad referred to serious medical conditions and considered that the references to conditions such as depression, arthritis and bronchitis might discourage readers from seeking help from a suitably qualified medical practitioner. We concluded that the ad was irresponsible because it could discourage consumers from seeking essential treatment for serious or prolonged medical conditions. On this point the ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Social responsibility) and 50.3 (Discouragement of essential treatment).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told IntraMed to seek advice from the CAP Copy Advice team when preparing future advertising.