Do your brand health claims need a sense check?

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14th January 2019
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6th February 2019

Major brands have been in the spotlight recently for making untrue claims and misleading the public. Making sure your advertisement or promotion sticks to the rules is harder than it looks – we look at how it’s easy to put your brand’s reputation at risk.


Yesterday make-up brand Avon posted a grovelling public apology for a body lotion campaign that bore the slogan “dimples are cute on your face (not your thighs).” Celebrity Jameela Jamil called out the brand for body shaming stating “and yet everyone has dimples on their thighs, I do, you do, and the clowns at @Avon_UK certainly do” in a tweet that has so far received over 60k likes. In an attempt to limit the damage to their reputation, the brand tweeted; “We hear you and we apologise. We messed up on our Smooth Moves Naked Proof messaging…we are working diligently to remove this messaging from our marketing materials moving forward. We’re on it. We love our community of women”.

Now, more than ever before, brands need to be alert to the claims and statements they make in all their campaigns and advertising – particularly when they are found to be illegal. Last week Energy drink Red Bull received this ASA ruling for an advert that implied health benefits. The ad featured a cartoon of two women in front of a can of Red Bull with the text “The secret to finishing early…because to leap every hurdle a hectic day brings, you just need to know Red Bull gives you wiiings….For a flying 4pm finish…” Sounds light-hearted – in the words of Red Bull – but the ASA believe that the ad made health claims not authorised on the European Union’s Register of Nutrition and Health Claims. Rejecting Red Bull’s response that the ad did not suggest any health benefit at all the ASA upheld a complaint, the brand’s third ruling in less than 2 years.











And this month Unilever had a costly relaunch of its Pukka ‘Detox’ tea, now known as “Feel New”. This followed an ASA ruling last May regarding Pukka’s claims that their range of herbal infusion products was in fact a detox drink. The ASA determined that this was a breach of the European Parliament’s Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims, which is also reflected in the CAP Code. Despite Pukka’s arguments that any brand trademarked prior to 2005 has until 2022 to sell their product, but not promote it, the ASA upheld their ruling in absence of the tea being authorised on the EU’s Register of health claims.

These examples all go to show that brands can no longer make claims they cannot back up. The ASA takes this issue seriously and will pick apart your health claims to ensure the public are being protected. It is always best to have any claims on advertising, POS and packaging materials checked first and also to have verifiable evidence to support them. PromoVeritas’ legal team are experts at reviewing marketing materials to ensure that they comply with all kinds of regulations, both in the UK and around the world, a service which is far quicker and more cost-effective than using traditional lawyers. For a sense-check of your marketing materials to avoid getting your brand into hot water contact us now.

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