Cosmetic Interventions: ASA calls for tighter restrictions under new rules
Following the recent call for evidence by CAP for assistance in regulating advertisements that may cause body image concerns, they are introducing new rules and guidance around placement and scheduling restrictions which prohibit cosmetic interventions advertising from being targeted at under 18’s. The new rules will be enforced by the ASA on 25th May 2022.
Over the years there have been numerous complaints to the ASA about adverts for cosmetic interventions, namely that they place undue pressure on young people to conform to a particular ideal, that they do not go into detail about the risks of the treatment and that the advert is misleading in terms of price, efficacy and the labelling of the practitioner carrying out the intervention amongst others.
The new CAP Code rule states that ‘Marketing communications for cosmetic interventions must not be directed at those aged below 18 years through the selection of media or context in which they appear.’ It then goes on to discuss what cosmetic interventions are, detailing that they are any intervention, procedure or treatment carried out with the primary objective of changing an aspect of a consumer’s physical appearance. This includes surgical and non-surgical interventions, both invasive and non-invasive, for example breast augmentation and injectable fillers.
The guidance discusses the targeting of these types of adverts and states that they must not be directed at those aged below 18 years. Therefore, any non-broadcast advertising cannot appear in any media that is aimed at under-18s or where 25% of the audience is under 18.
The guidance also discusses the labelling of doctors who practice surgery and hold the correct qualifications may be described as surgeons. Marketers must hold proof of surgeon’s qualifications from a reputable, independent source before making claims that relate to the qualifications. Surgeons can then be described as cosmetic surgeons if they have specialised and received training and gained experience in their area of speciality. When referring to non-surgical practitioners, the guidance states that marketers should not make claims which misleadingly exaggerate the skills, qualifications or experience of the practitioner of the intervention.
As is standard practice within the CAP Code, all claims must be substantiated by evidence. The guidance relating to cosmetic interventions further highlights the importance of this, detailing that all objective efficacy claims for interventions must be supported by robust evidence.