Wednesday, 7 April 2010

*Blues Begone - pilot studies are more reliable than adverts

Sometimes an advert which
looks complainable turns out, on further investigation, to be perfectly legitimate. (Believe it or not, I do actually research my complaints before I submit them.)

Take this advert for Blues Begone - a computer-based treatment for sufferers of depression. The advertiser's claims are supported by published research - see this pilot study for example.

UPDATE, 14 Jul: ASA write to confirm the advertisers have agreed not to use the ad again.

Alas, the advert is ruined by the rash assertion that "Depression is Easy to Cure". Dr David Purves really ought to have known better.

A short, but important, ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Healthy" magazine (April 2010, Issue 77, p148). I understand that the magazine is sold exclusively in Holland & Barrett stores.

The advert, for, promotes a computer-based cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) treatment for sufferers of depression.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of one section of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide an original copy of the advert by post, if required.

1. The advertiser has published a pilot study into the efficacy of the 'Blues Begone' treatment[1].

2. The study's abstract states:

"Results: One hundred patients started Blues Begone®, 58 completed the program, 72% (n = 42) of completers achieved reliable change and (n = 36) 62% achieved both reliable and clinically significant change, and may be considered to have recovered by the end of the program.

Conclusion: These data provide the first demonstration of the potential viability of Blues Begone® as a home based computerized treatment for depression and anxiety."

3. The CAP Code, Section 7.1, states "No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."

4. Taking into account the the results of the study, I challenge whether the advertiser's assertion that "Depression is easy to cure" is misleading under Section 7.1 of the Code.

5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine, or with the publishing and medical industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.

6. I confirm that I am happy to be identified as the complainant."

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