These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Advertising Standards Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Lets Go Shopping
Complaint from: 1 viewer
An advertisement for the Balance Bracelet, an item of jewellery made from a metal alloy, was shown on Let's Go Shopping. It featured testimonials from people who had experienced problems with their joints, and claimed that wearing the bracelet had changed their life and made them feel "more energised". It stated that there was no scientific explanation for the bracelet but claimed that such jewellery had been used since ancient times and had been of benefit to many people.
A viewer complained that the advertisement should not suggest that the product could improve certain ailments and conditions unless there was scientific evidence to prove that it would. He believed the advertisement would mislead vulnerable people into buying the product in the belief that it would improve their health and well-being.
Let's Go Shopping believed that the advertisement made it clear that the bracelet was a non-medical product. The advertisement did not refer to any specific medical conditions and the testimonials expressed each individual's own experience – it did not promise that the Balance Bracelet would work for all viewers in the same way. Let's Go Shopping stressed the availability of a 60 day money back guarantee for dissatisfied customers, but pointed out that only 8% of orders had been returned since the product was first advertised in the UK. It added that jewellery of this kind was based on ancient Chinese principles of acupuncture and universal energy, and that similar bracelets were widely available in chemist shops and health stores.
The advertiser declared that the Balance Bracelet was a non-medical product, and that the customer testimonials made no claims that the bracelet had alleviated specific conditions. This was noted by the ITC who remained of the view, consistent with the ASA’s approach to print and other advertising for such products, that a customer testimonial describing health benefits that could be construed by a viewer as medical in nature constituted an implied medical claim for a product. This was therefore unacceptable in advertisements for products that do not have a licence to make the same medical claim implied by the testimonial. The ITC concluded there was a strong implication that it was possible to derive some kind of health benefit from the product. It reminded Let's Go Shopping that the offer of money back guarantees did not mean that unsubstantiated claims could be made about the product. In the absence of independent medical evidence to prove that the Balance Bracelet could improve general health and well-being, the ITC judged that the advertisement was in breach of the ITC Code.
Complaint upheld. Breach of ITC Code Rule 5.2.1 and 8.2.3.