Sunday, 20 June 2010
Indiumease (part 2) - the devil's in the detail
Today's second follow-up complaint concerns the Healthy Approach Company whose adverts in Nexus Magazine promote two bullshit food supplements, Indiumease and Organica Silica (pictured).
The advert in its previous incarnation was even more objectionable than the current one - still, I reckon there's a good chance the current one also breaches the advertising CAP Codes.
ASA complaint follows.
"I write to complain about an advert which appears in Nexus Magazine (June-July 2010, Vol 17, No 4, p69).
The advert, for healthy-approach.co.uk, promotes the supplements "Indiumease" and "Organica Silica".
I suspect that the advert may be in breach of four sections 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. In February 2010 I submitted a complaint about a very similar advert from the same company. In March, the ASA wrote to advise me:
"We've already investigated and upheld complaints about this issue and I'm concerned to hear that advertising like this continues. I've therefore passed the case to our Compliance team, which will follow it up."
2. Because the Compliance Team does not correspond with complainants, I am not aware if the advert which is the subject of this complaint has been prepared with consideration to Compliance Team's advice, or the advice of the ASA's Copy Advice service. I will proceed under the tentative assumption that is has not.
3. The advert describes Indiumease as a "Liquid mineral [which] normalises gland mineral absorption".
4. (i) I have been unable to find any mention of clinical evidence for the efficacy of Indiumease in PubMed or elsewhere.
(ii) The advertiser's website mentions some research conducted on mice by Schroeder, Balassa et al in the 1960s. I cannot find a published paper by these authors which corresponds to the advertiser's description (on their own website) of the research.
5. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:
(i) Indiumease "raises mineral uptake"
(ii) Indiumease "has been shown to normalise gland function by increasing mineral absorption, which helps anti-ageing recovery and may normalise the thyroid, pancreas and other glands"
(iii) Indiumease "makes indium absorbable for the first time"
6. The advert claims that the "Organica Silica" product can "help dispel joint aches & pains".
7. (i) I have been unable to find any mention of clinical evidence for the efficacy of Organica Silica in PubMed or elsewhere.
(ii) The advertiser's website mentions "tests made by Professor Jean Cahn, Chairman of SIR International Institute..."
(iii) If the tests described on the website do indeed exist, they do not appear to have been published in any medical journal; I can find no reference to them.
8. (i) The advert contains the following text:
"Silica is one of the essential minerals we all need, but the amount in the body diminishes with age. The organic form is a component of living tissue, and plays a vital part in general human health through cellular regeneration. Testimonies and medical evidence show that it can support and protect joint cartilage, for example easing knee stiffness and pain, counter vascular wall damage and strengthen bones through calcium absorption and keep skin youthful. One litre bottle £29.20 + p&p."
(ii) The text is a plausible description of the biological properties of silica (i.e. silicon dioxide, or "sand".) However, the advert does not clarify if these are also properties of the "Organica Silica" product.
9. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claim, and I challenge whether the claim is backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:
(i) Organic Silica "help[s] dispel joint aches & pains"
10. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advertiser misleadingly describes the properties of silica (silicon oxide) as if they were the properties of the product "Organica Silica", and under Section 6.1 I challenge whether this conflation "exploit[s] the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".
11. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or the magazine. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."