UK ASA ruling: Optislim

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A very interesting ruling from the UK ASA: 

" We noted that the on-screen text in the ad stated "When used as part of a calorie controlled diet & healthy lifestyle", but considered that this was insufficient to remove the implication in the voice-over and visuals of the ad that Optislim could replace exercise for those wishing to lose weight."

ASA Adjudication on Opti-Pharm Pty Ltd 
Opti-Pharm Pty Ltd t/a Optislim

Lloyds Pharmacy Ltd
Sapphire Court
Walsgrave Triangle
Coventry
CV2 2TX
Date:
25 August 2010
Media:
Television
Sector:
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
6
Complaint Ref:
129935
Ad

A TV ad for a weight loss aid featured a woman getting ready to exercise and stretching. She then entered a kitchen where she made herself an Optislim shake. The voice-over stated “Shake fat fast with Optislim three-second work out. Your complete weight loss solution. Available exclusively at Lloyds Pharmacy”. The woman was then shown relaxing on a sofa. On-screen text stated "When used as part of a calorie controlled diet & healthy lifestyle".
Issue

Six viewers challenged that the ad was misleading because it implied that drinking Optislim would have the same benefit as exercise or could replace exercise in a weight loss programme.

BCAP TV Code
5.1.1
5.2.2
8.4.4
Response

OptiPharm t/a Optislim (Optislim) said that the ad had been viewed by over ten million viewers in the UK and the relatively few number of complaints received was a testament to the fact that viewers had not been misled by the ad. They explained that the ad showed the woman intending to go to the gym but, after she realised she did not have time to go to the gym, she decided to drink the Optislim shake. Optislim said that, after discussions with Clearcast, they included this sequence to make clear that the woman in the ad did not have the time to go to the gym. They believed that the on-screen text made clear that Optislim was to be used as part of a calorie controlled diet and a healthy lifestyle and could be a supplement to exercise, but not a replacement. Optislim said the statement "Your complete weight loss solution" in conjunction with the scenario of a woman not having time to exercise made clear to viewers that Optislim was intended to be a part of a consumers weight loss regime and not to replace it.

Lloyds Pharmacy said that alterations were made to the ad after discussions with Clearcast. They said there was no intention to suggest that the product should be used as an alternative to exercise and believed the on-screen text "When used as part of a calorie controlled diet & healthy lifestyle" emphasised that point. They therefore did not believe the ad was likely to mislead.

Clearcast said that at script stage they asked the advertiser to make clear that the product was not an equivalent or replacement for regular exercise but was just one element of an overall weight control regime that could be used if a trip to the gym was not feasible. Clearcast said the ad contained on-screen text which made it clear that the product was to be used as part of a calorie controlled diet. They therefore believed that the message of the ad was clear and was unlikely to mislead.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA considered that the phrase "Your complete weight loss solution" and "3 second work out", in conjunction with the image of the woman sitting down instead of participating in exercise, implied that Optislim would replace exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. We noted that the on-screen text in the ad stated "When used as part of a calorie controlled diet & healthy lifestyle", but considered that this was insufficient to remove the implication in the voice-over and visuals of the ad that Optislim could replace exercise for those wishing to lose weight. Because the ad implied that Optislim could replace exercise and have the same benefits, we concluded the ad breached the Code.

The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Code rules 5.1.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.2 (Implications) and 8.4.4 (Low-calorie foods).

Action

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

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