Two adverts banned for ‘exploiting’ coronavirus-related health anxieties

Two advertisements “exploiting” Covid-19 health-related anxieties are to be banned, a watchdog has ruled.

Manchester-based clinic PCK SkinSpaceUK sent an email to its customers in March offering “40 per cent off! In the fight against viruses!” as it promoted vitamin D and vitamin B12 shots.

The marketing campaign came following reports that people could protect themselves against the virus by boosting their immune system.

But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said all licensed vitamin D and vitamin B12 injections are prescription-only and therefore the advert breached its rules by promoting them to the public.

“In the context of a global pandemic of…consumers were likely to understand that “VIRUSES” included [Covid-19],” the ruling added.

“Therefore the ad gave the impression to recipients that the vitamin D and vitamin B12 injections being sold were effective in helping to prevent or treat coronavirus/Covid-19.”

The ASA did accept that PCK Skin’s products were not specifically marketed for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19.

Nevertheless, the advertisement was deemed to be misleading and must not appear in the same format again the ASA ruled.

Meanwhile, The Chuckling Goat, a health shop based in Wales, was reprimanded for promoting the benefits of its “immunity boosting” products in staving off viruses.

The company ran poster advertisements on the side of buses in Yorkshire and Reading in April that directed consumers to its website which contained pages on flu and viruses, the ASA said.

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“What’s your best defence against any virus? Boost your immune system” followed by “Quick and free – live gut health advice”, a message on the advert read.

However, the ASA deemed that the advert was misleading and it has subsequently been axed.

“We considered that because of the context in which these claims appeared, namely on the ‘viruses’ and ‘flu’ web pages, alongside featured food products, consumers would understand that those products listed could help to fight against viruses and the flu by boosting immunity and improving gut health,” the ASA ruling said.

“We concluded that the claims implied that their food products prevented, treated or cured human disease, which was prohibited under the code.”

The ASA said both cases were “fast-tracked” as part of its focus on “prioritising and tackling ads that exploit health-related anxieties during the crisis”.



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