Thursday, 5 August 2010
*Vianna Stibal and her cancer cures
Attention wannabe sceptical letter writers! Can you work out what's wrong with this advert from this month's "Kindred Spirit" magazine? (Click to enlarge)
UPDATE, 20th Oct: The ASA Council has adjudicated on the complaint and upheld it in full. Congratulations to everyone who joined in the fun!
UPDATE, 20th Oct: Responding to my complaint, the advertisers undertook to remove an illegal cancer cure claim from their website. Clearly, though, they weren't promising to remove any of the other illegal cancer cure claims from their website. Tut tut!
Don't know yet? Well, here's a tiny little clue.
Vianna Stibal is a repulsive little woman who's made a small fortune in the USA from claiming she can cure cancer.
Practicioners of her Theta Healing technique are normally reluctant to repeat the claim in the UK, but on this occasion, either Hay House Publishers or Stibal herself are guilty of an extremely serious offence under the Cancer Act 1939.
Perhaps Stibal's visit to London later this year will be extended indefinitely. At Her Majesty's Pleasure.
I've put in an ASA complaint (below), and another with Trading Standards, and I hope everyone reading this page immediately does the same. Right now.
(UPDATE, 21 Aug: A number of people have now complained to the ASA, and there is no need for anyone else to do so - it won't make any difference to the final result.
More complaints to Trading Standards are needed - the more they receive, the better the chance they'll take action. You don't have to be a UK citizen to submit a complaint.
You don't need to buy a copy of the magazine, but you do need to say where the advert appeared - "Kindred Spirit magazine - Summer 2010 Issue - page 2". Here's a better-quality scan of the advert, if you need it.
My complaint is rather long. Don't copy me. A few lines complaining that the advert promotes a cure for cancer, in breach of the Cancer Act 1939, is more than enough.)
"I write to complain about an advert appearing in "Kindred Spirit" magazine, Summer 2010 issue, p2.
The advert, for Hay House publishing/Vianna Stibal, promotes a Theta Healing workshop taking place in London, in October.
I suspect that the advert may be in breach of innumerable 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. Vianna Stibal - who is leading the workshop promoted in the advertisement - is an American author and healer who "created" the "Theta Healing" method.
2. Under Section 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertisers can substantiate any of the following claims:
(i) Vianna Stibal - who is leading the workshop promoted in the advertisement - "healed herself of cancer using a technique [Theta Healing] she'd developed as an intuitive reader"
(ii) Vianna Stibal can teach other people how to cure cancer using this method
(iii) Theta Healing is "one of the most powerful healing...techniques in the world"
3. Under Section 2.1, I challenge whether the advert is "legal, decent, honest and truthful".
4. Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society", and I challenge whether the advert exploits vulnerable consumers.
5. Under Section 4.1, I challenge whether the advertisers have complied with their "responsibility for ensuring that their marketing communications are legal".
6. Under Section 4.1, I challenge whether the advert incites those people attending the workshop to claim they can cure cancer.
7. Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the advert "exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".
8. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert is misleading.
9. In relation to consumers with cancer who might attend the workshop and, because of the advert, believe they can stop their conventional medical treatment, under Section 10.1 I challenge whether the advert condones or encourages unsafe practices.
10. In relation to the claimed cure for cancer, under Section 50.3, I challenge whether the advert discourages essential treatment.
11. Under Section 50.27, I challenge whether the advert claims the Theta Healing therapy can cure illness.
12. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser."