UK ASA ruling: Olay Regenerist skin care cream

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"We considered we had not seen evidence to show that the product could result in dramatically younger looking skin, similar or equivalent to the effects of cosmetic injections."

http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_45862.htm

ASA Adjudications

Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd The Heights Brooklands Weybridge Surrey KT13 0XP

Number of complaints: 46

Date: 4 March 2009

Media: Television Sector: Health and beauty Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Ltd Ad

A TV ad for Olay Regenerist skin care cream showed a woman in her office. Voice-over stated "I'm Eve Cameron, beauty journalist. Women who aren't ready for cosmetic injections constantly ask me to recommend a skin cream that really works.

So I was excited when this study, revealed at the World Congress of Dermatology, showed that pentapeptides are effective in reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. So if you're not ready for cosmetic injections, but want dramatically younger looking skin, try Olay Regenerist with pentapeptides. Look for the new pack, and love the skin you're in."

Issue 1.
Many viewers objected that the ad was misleading and offensive, because they believed it implied cosmetic injections were a natural or inevitable next step for women as they got older.

2. Two viewers challenged whether the ad implied the same, or similar, effects could be achieved with Olay Regenerist as with cosmetic injections.

3. One viewer, a doctor, challenged whether there was scientific evidence that pentapeptides were effective at reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. 4. The same viewer challenged whether the mention of a paper presented at the World Congress of Dermatology (WCD) in the ad misleadingly implied the findings of that paper were supported by the scientific community.

BCAP TV Advertising Code: 5.1 (old);5.2.2;6.1

Response

1. Proctor and Gamble (Health and Beauty Care) Ltd (P&G) said they had commissioned independent research on over 2,000 respondents in January 2008. They said this research showed that, although some 25% of women said they would consider procedures like cosmetic injections in the future to counter the effects of ageing on their appearance, for 67% of women that would only be a last resort.

They said the same research showed that only 4% of those surveyed had actually undergone cosmetic injection procedures. They said their ad was not intended to demean women by claiming they would inevitably and naturally resort to cosmetic procedures, and they did not believe most consumers would interpret the ad in that way. They said the ad was designed to address the large number of women who may have thought about those procedures but did not, and perhaps never would, feel ready to undertake them, but were nevertheless interested in an anti-ageing cream such as Olay Regenerist. Clearcast said they believed the script for the ad did not imply that cosmetic injections were an inevitable next step for women as they got older, but addressed the fact that whilst some women may consider cosmetic injections too big or too drastic a step, they might be interested in a good skin cream.

2. P&G said they did not believe there was an expressed or implied comparison between Olay Regenerist and cosmetic injections in either the voice-over or the visuals. They said they were trying to attract the attention of women who were actively engaged in the subject of anti-ageing but for whom the concept of going further than an anti-ageing cream was a step too far, and direct those women to their brand as an appropriate skin cream.

They said their research suggested that would be very meaningful to a significant proportion of women without any comparison between the two alternatives. P&G said the claim "dramatically younger looking skin" was a reference to the product as a whole – Olay Regenerist with pentapeptides – and not to the pentapeptides alone. They said this claim had been approved by Clearcast in previous Olay Regenerist ads and was not linked to an expressed or implied comparison of the product with cosmetic injections.

However, they said, going forward, they would ensure text appeared on-screen stating "results not equal to medical procedures" to ensure there was no ambiguity in future P&G ads which mentioned cosmetic procedures. Clearcast said they had considered the claim "if you're not ready for cosmetic injections, but want dramatically younger looking skin" with their expert consultant. They believed the ad did not imply the product could give the same effect as cosmetic injections but was informing consumers that if they were not ready to have a cosmetic injection there was a skin care product that could give a good result. They said the ad was careful to note that Olay Regenerist could reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, therefore making it clear that the cream was different from cosmetic injections which could for a time actually fill in or otherwise reduce lines and wrinkles.

3. P&G said two posters on pentapeptides were published at the WCD. They said for the first poster, the supplier of the pentapeptides used in Olay Regenerist had published the results of a clinical study into efficacy, which showed that the level of pentapeptides used in Olay Regenerist significantly reduced the appearance of lines and wrinkles.They said the second study, published by a group of P&G scientists, presented data on the clinical effects of the topical application of the pentapeptides in Olay Regenerist on a larger sample. P&G said the findings presented in the second poster were subsequently published in the peer reviewed International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2005).

P&G said the published study was a 12-week, double blind, placebo controlled randomised clinical study, assessing a moisturiser control and the same product with added pentapeptides. They said the results were subjected to quantitative technical and expert grader analysis and that self-assessment reports from participants were also documented. They said all the data showed a significant reduction in fine lines and wrinkles for the product containing pentapeptides. P&G sent copies of the posters presented at the WCD, the paper published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science and two further supporting documents.

They also sent a study from the supplier which they said described a randomised blinded vehicle-controlled split-face study that evaluated a pentapeptide containing product on volunteers against two others. Clearcast said their dermatology consultant was satisfied he had seen evidence that pentapeptides were effective at changing the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

4. P&G said the statement in the ad that the paper on pentapeptides was revealed at the WCD was entirely factual. They said that many thousands of scientific papers were published at scientific congresses every year and they did not believe the ad suggested or implied support by the scientific community.

They said the International League of Dermatological Societies who organised the WCD stated that the principle objective of the Congress was to develop and advance dermatology by providing an opportunity for professionals in the field to share their experiences and exchange and discuss their clinical and scientific ideas.

They said in the context of the ad the drama was in the revealing of the paper as a little known fact which was not known or supported by any community. Clearcast said the ad did not state that the whole scientific community supported the study.

Assessment

The ASA took advice from an independent expert on the points of complaint relating to scientific evidence.

1. Not upheld
We acknowledged the complainants' concerns about social attitudes to ageing. However, we considered most consumers would be likely to understand the ad in the context of an awareness of cosmetic injections and a reluctance to take such a step. We concluded that the voice-over stating "Women who aren't ready for cosmetic injections constantly ask me to recommend a skin cream that really works …" and "if you're not ready for cosmetic injections, but …" presented Olay Regenerist as an alternative to a more invasive step rather than suggesting that cosmetic injections themselves were an inevitability. Whilst we acknowledged the ad might be distasteful to some, we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On this point we investigated the ad under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 6.1 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach. We also investigated the ad under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 5.1 (Misleading advertising) but did not find it in breach.

2. Upheld
We considered that the phrases "women who aren't ready for cosmetic injections constantly ask me to recommend a skin cream that really works" and "if you're not ready for cosmetic injections but want dramatically younger looking skin, try Olay Regenerist " carried a significant implication that the product was an alternative to cosmetic injections, and was capable of delivering similar "dramatic" results. Because we had not seen evidence to show that, we concluded the ad could mislead on those grounds. We acknowledged P&G's assurance that any future mention of the product in connection with cosmetic procedures would feature on-screen text stating "results not equal to medical procedures".

We further noted P&G's contention that the claim "dramatically younger looking skin" referred to the effects of Olay Regenerist as a whole and not to the pentapeptide element alone. We considered we had not seen evidence to show that the product could result in dramatically younger looking skin, similar or equivalent to the effects of cosmetic injections.

On this point, the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 and 5.2.2 (Misleading advertising).

3. Upheld
Our expert said that one established means of substantiating clinical data could be peer reviewed publication in a reputable and independent journal. He said the reputation of a journal would be dependent on the quality of the work it published. He said, regardless of whether results had been published or not, it was the design and results of the study that determined its quality and suitability for claims support.

He said there were, in his view, methodological gaps in the management of results and interpretation of data presented in the published paper. He said the differences between the observed changes in the control product group and the peptide containing product group were small at all stages of the trial.

He said he did not consider those changes reached a level of significance sufficient to support the claim that pentapeptides were effective at reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. He noted that in the self-evaluation part of the study, the test subjects themselves overall reported no effect for the pentapeptide containing product. Our expert also evaluated the further study sent. He said the results from this study in some respects contradicted the results in the published paper.

He said the three types of evaluation undertaken in this study showed significant inconsistencies of result across the data set. He said the blinded evaluation by the dermatologist showed no difference between the product and the placebo overall. He said that, as in the published paper, he did not consider those changes, measured by instruments, which were reported in favour of the pentapeptide containing product, were likely to be visually significant to the consumer.

We considered that the claim "pentapeptides are effective at reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. So if you're not ready for cosmetic injections, but want dramatically younger looking skin, try Olay Regenerist with penatapeptides" was a strong performance claim linked to a specific ingredient.

Although we acknowledged that, as a moisturising product, Regenerist was likely to temporarily reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, we considered that, to substantiate this type of claim, the results from studies should be ingredient specific, perceptible to the consumer, and consistently in favour of that claim.

We considered that tests using human volunteers should be conducted on the target population for the product, and appropriate inclusion and exclusion criteria should be used to screen volunteers for obvious mismatches and for levels of key characteristics, e.g. wrinkles and age spots. We noted neither paper reported this methodological step, although we accepted P&Gs submission that, in the case of the published paper (which had been conducted by P&G scientists) this had taken place. We noted our experts view that because the two main papers submitted as evidence were split-face trials (with different products applied to different sides of the face) evaluation of each side of the face at the start of the trial was an important methodological step, also not reported as having taken place in either case.

We understood that in the published paper the majority of test subjects themselves reported no effect for pentapeptides and in the unpublished paper the assessing dermatologist reported no effect.

We noted these inconsistencies of result and also noted that the magnitude of those changes which were recorded in both papers were so small that they were not sufficient to support the claim that …pentapeptides are effective at reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles". We concluded that P&G had not provided evidence sufficient to support the claim.

On this point, the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 and 5.2.2 (Misleading advertising).

4. Upheld
We noted the WCD was run under the auspices of the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS), an NGO with an official relationship with the World Health Organisation. Our expert said that the data presented at the WCD, by P&G and their pentapeptide supplier, were in the form of two posters. He said there was no specific status attributable to the quality of data when an abstract was accepted for presentation as a poster at an international meeting, and neither the ILDS nor the American Academy of Dermatology would accept responsibility for the data presented in individual submissions.

He said the validity of results presented at conferences was scrutinised by the scientific community later, at the point that a paper was submitted for publication. He also said WCD instructions for authors directed them to include a section on methodology and this was, in his view either absent, deficient or abbreviated in various sections of both the posters on pentapeptides presented at the Congress. We noted the ad stated "I was excited when this study, revealed at the World Congress of Dermatology, showed that pentapeptides are effective in reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles." We considered that viewers unfamiliar with the way in which scientific data was validated, would be likely to infer from this that the statement "pentapeptides are effective in reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles" was endorsed by a large scientific meeting, the World Congress of Dermatology.

Because it was not, we concluded the ad could mislead on these grounds. On this point, the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 and 5.2.2 (Misleading advertising).

Action

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Broadcast)

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