Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Soul & Spirit Magazine - 2 Free DVDs not included


Since I'm banned* from submitting complaints about psychics to the ASA at the moment, it was only the promise of "2 FREE DVDs WORTH £10!" that persuaded me to part with £3.50 to buy Soul & Spirit Magazine.



Imagine my disappointment, dear reader, when the magazine contained a grand total of no DVDs!

In fact, the 'free' DVDs are only available by post - and it'll cost you £2.24 in postage.


I think this is misleading - and a recent ASA adjudication lends some credence to my opinion. Let's see what they have to say about this complaint!

"I write to complain about the magazine "Soul & Spirit" (May 2010, Issue 28).

I suspect that the magazine may be in breach of three sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

I can provide an original copy of the magazine by post, if required. I have enclosed scans of the brochure, and a further scan of the magazine and the brochure, aligned as they would be inside the plastic wrapping.

1. The May 2010 issue of the magazine is distributed together with a larger brochure promoting a set of DVDs.

2. The two items - the magazine and the larger brochure - are tightly wrapped in plastic, so that the magazine obscures most of the brochure. When looking at the front cover of the magazine, the only text visible at the top of the brochure reads "2 FREE* DVDS WORTH £10**".

3. Since the two items are wrapped tightly together, I argue that the text "2 FREE* DVDS WORTH £10**" constitutes a "Front page flash" under Section 36.1 of the CAP code.

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

5. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the front page flash is misleading by implying that the magazine contains two DVDs when, in fact, it does not. Specifically:

(i) No part of the visible text clarifies that the DVDs are not included in the magazine (the ASA ajudication of 7th April 2010, Ref 115291, addressed this very matter)

(ii) The plastic wrapping adds to the impression that the magazine contains the DVDs

(iii) The text on the brochure which states "*postage charge applies", the text which states "**combined value of both gifts" and the larger text which states "for every Soul & Spirit reader" is obscured by the top of the magazine.

6. The CAP Code, Section 27.4, states "Promoters should avoid causing unnecessary disappointment."

7. Under Section 27.4, I complain that I, personally, was disappointed having bought a copy of the magazine, expecting it to contain two free DVDs worth £10.

8. I challenge whether the magazine's front page flash is in breach of Section 27.4.

9. The CAP Code, Section 36.1, states "...Major conditions that might reasonably influence consumers significantly in their decision to buy the publication should appear on the front page or cover"

10. Under Section 36.1, I challenge whether a major condition that might reasonably influence consumers significantly in their decision to buy the magazine, namely that the magazine did not contain free DVDs, has appeared on the front page or cover of the magazine.

11. I confirm that I have no connections with the magazine, and I am not involved in legal proceedings with the magazine."

(*With my blessing - the ASA have been besieged with complaints about "accurate" clairvoyants, the majority of them written by me, and - not unreasonably - they want to put the kettle on, put their feet up, and have a jolly good think about what to do next.)

Tiina Lindholm and her 'secret powers of nature'


Tiina Lindholm is, to the best of my knowledge, the first person of Finno-Ugric descent to appear on this blog.



Tiina describes herself as a "Nordic spiritual healer" and a "Master of Public Health". Whatever the hell that means.

Tiina is also pretty keen on pyramids which she imagines will block electromagnetic (EM) radiation - see this advert if you really want to know more.

ASA complaint already submitted - unless Tiina really can intefere with EM radiation.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Soul and Spirit" magazine (Issue 28, May 2010).

The advert, for Tiina Lindholm, promotes various products and services.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims:

(i) The "Spiritually programmed [sic] Tetrahedron" "breaks ground radiation"
(ii) The "Spiritually programmed Tetrahedron" is "effective within 40 metres"
(iii) The "Spiritually programmed Tetrahedron" maintains "Bio [sic] energy fields" and "cleans"
(iv) The "Spiritually programmed Tetrahedron" blocks "electromagnetic radiation"
(v) The "Spiritually programmed [sic] Quartz granules" "helps[sic] you to stay fit and healthy"
(vi) The "Spiritually programmed Quartz granules" are "effective within 5 metres"

3. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

4. Under Section 50.1, I challenge whether any of the following claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) Tiina Lindholm can "help" with "insomnia"
(ii) Tiina Lindholm can "help" with "illnesses"

5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

Angelica Gold - lottery consultant


Do you believe in the power of angels? Do you want to win the lottery? Are you somewhat gullible?


If you answered "yes" to all three questions, you may have been one of the dupes that responded to this advert!

'Angelica Gold' claims that she can "invoke celestial forces to gain an abundance of wealth, love, success and happiness!"

More seriously, she claims that you will "enjoy luck in lotteries" with her service, which "really works".

Unfortunately, that's a breach of the ASA's CAP Code Section 57.4(q).

If you think that I'm just making that up then, go ahead. Read my complaint!

"I write to complain about an advert in "Prediction" magazine (May 2010, p34).

The advert, for Angelica Gold, promotes an "Angel Magic" service.

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 CAP Code, Section 57.4(q), states "Marketing communications...should not exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck"

2. The text of the advert states

"Do you wish to...enjoy LUCK IN LOTTERIES? ANGEL MAGIC REALLY WORKS to help solve ALL your problems and enable you to fulfil your every desire!"

3. Under Section 57.4(q), I challenge whether the advertiser is exploiting cultural beliefs about the powers of angels and their ability to influence the outcome of lotteries.

4. 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."

Advanced Colloidals - 'flu season' products in stock!


You've probably noticed how many homeopaths have difficulty spelling "homeopathy". Well, the disease isn't limited to one brand of woo salesmen.



Take this lot, for example, who entertainingly offer colloidal silver for "vetinerian" purposes.

The ASA have advised against these kinds of claims before, so in the case of this advert (top-left corner, "COLLOIDAL SILVER"), 'Advanced Colloidals' don't stand a chance.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Nexus" magazine (April-May 2010, Vol 17, No 3, p77, top-left corner).

The advert, entitled "COLLOIDAL SILVER - High Potency" promotes colloidal silver.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

3. 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 trials conducted on people:

(i) The advertiser's colloidal silver has "high potency"
(ii) Colloidal silver is a "universal antimicrobial[sic]" which can "protect" you
(iii) Colloidal silver is effective as a defence against flu

4. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

Navraj Sihra - woo, or not?


Some of the adverts in Nexus Magazine do their best to be anonymous, offering little more than a telephone number or an email address.


This advert ('RADIONICS' - top left corner) is a good example - I wonder who the advertiser could be?


By the way, Navraj Sihra is an artist. (He's the one in the middle, looking glum.)

Navraj shares a phone number and an email address with someone who is offering to "correct" disease at a distance. Are they related? We should be told!

ASA complaint, perhaps not concerning Navraj at all, follows.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Nexus" magazine (April-May 2010, Vol 17, No 3, p77, top-left corner).

The advert, entitled "RADIONICS. We are vibrating atoms" promotes a distance healing service.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

3. 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 trials conducted on people:

(i) Disease is caused by "atoms out of synchronisation"
(ii) The advertiser can "correct" disease "at a distance"

4. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

*Global Information Network - a pyramid scheme?


I don't normally do complaints about pyramid schemes, but since an advert for this opportunity - which certainly resembles one - has appeared in Nexus Magazine, I'll make an exception.


UPDATE, 11 Aug: The ASA has written to confirm that the advertiser, who they call a "GIN affiliate who is based in the USA", has agreed not to repeat the advert. During their enquiries, the ASA did not establish whether or not GIN operates a pyramid scheme.


The website for this
business opportunity makes all kinds of bizarre claims, and to find out if any of them are justified, it'll cost you a £1000 sign-up fee and US$150 monthly thereafter.

ASA complaints follows.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Nexus" magazine (April-May 2010, Vol 17, No 3, p76, top-left corner).

The advert, promoting the "Global Information Network", is entitled "Highest Level Secret Society members are teaching their secrets".

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of three 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. The CAP Code, Section 7.1, states "No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise".

2. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert, which promotes a multi-level marketing scheme, misleadingly implies that it is promoting membership of a secret society.

3. The CAP Code, Section 52.5, states "...the initial marketing communication should normally state if an investment is required".

4. Under Section 52.5, I challenge whether the advert omits the fact that an investment of £1,000, plus US$150 per month, is required[1].

5. The CAP Code, Section 52.8, states "Marketing communications should not offer schemes under which consumers pay or give other consideration for the opportunity to receive compensation that is derived primarily from the introduction of other consumers into the scheme and not from the sale or consumption of products ('pyramid schemes')".

6. Under Section 52.8, I challenge whether the advert is promoting a "pyramid scheme"[2].

7. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the MLM industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine.

Footnotes:
[1] https://www.globalinformationnetwork.com/Apply/
[2] https://www.globalinformationnetwork.com/How-to-Make-Money/
(In particular, see the section marked "Referral, network, or multi-level marketing is powerful and explosive")
"

*Nick and Gemma Wells - Faith-Healing Fans


John of God - aka Joao Teixeira de Faria - is an infamous Brazilian faith healer.

UPDATE, 11 May: ASA report "We have decided to pass your complaint to our Compliance Team"


John allegedly doesn't charge for his "healing" work - which is fair enough, since according to the man himself...

"I do not heal, God is the one who heals"

However, organising tour parties to visit John at his Brazilian home are big business. A number of people in the UK offer this service, two of whom are Nick and Gemma Wells.

The Wells' advert in Nexus Magazine contains some claims which I'm fairly confident can't be substantiated with evidence. ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Nexus" magazine (April-May 2010, Vol 17, No 3, p16).

The advert, for Nick and Gemma Wells, promotes an organised tour to visit the Brazilian faith healer Joao Teixeira de Faria, aka "John of God".

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 CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. Under Sections 3.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims:

(i) Joao Teixeira de Faria has "remarkable powers of healing"
(ii) Many people have benefitted from Joao Teixeira de Faria's "healing work"
(iii) The "Casa Crystal Bed...offers a powerful healing facility"
(iv) Joao Teixeira de Faria has "healed and treated millions"

3. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

*Barbara Ciereszko and her 'hexagonal water'


Barbara Ciereszko is back with another advert in Nexus magazine (more carefully worded than the last one).

UPDATE, 31 May: ASA write to say they've asked the advertisers to remove the claim "Would you like to transform your tap water into hexagonal water?" and to advertise the product on an "availability only" platform in the future.


If you didn't know, "hexagonal water" is a stable hexagonal crystalline cluster of water molecules that - errr, doesn't exist. This article thoroughly debunks the idea.

Barbara's sparsely-worded new advert isn't good enough to persuade me not to complain to the ASA. Again.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Nexus" magazine (April-May 2010, Vol 17, No 3, p10).

The advert, for Barbara Ciereszko, promotes a method of turning tap water into "hexagonal water".

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. Water molecules have a tendency to form small groups, called "clusters", due to the hydrogen bonds between them. These clusters exist for just picoseconds.

2. Proponents of "hexagonal water" claim that water can form stable hexagonal crystal structures with special properties. Numerous companies (mainly in America) sell products that claim to utilise these special properties.

3. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

4. Under Sections 3.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims:

(i) "Hexagonal water" actually exists
(ii) The advertiser's product(s) can "transform your tap water into hexagonal water"

5. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Healthvibes - Quit Smoking (90% success rate!)


I'm not yet convinced that news reports on the telly are quite as reliable as randomised double-blind clinical trials.


Still, TV seems to be the source of the Healthvibes Clinic's claim that they have a 90% success rate with their 'stop smoking' treatment.

The treatment is called 'Bioresonance Therapy', and before you ask lolwut?, it's all about toxic substances and their tendency to 'alter the body's normal pattern of resonating [sic]'.

Hope that's all clear, then. Look out for the ASA's response in a few weeks or months, if not.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Natural Health" magazine (May 2010, p126).

The advert, for the Healthvibes Clinic, promotes their "Bioresonance & Nutritional Therapy" method of diagnosis and treatment for various medical conditions.

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 CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

2. Under Section 50.1, I challenge whether the following claim is backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) "Bioresonance & Nutritional Therapy" can be "used to assess and balance hidden causes of ill health"

3. The advertiser's website[1] clarifies that, at the clinic, the conditions mentioned in the advert's "We specialise in:" section are also treated with Bioresonance and Nutritional Therapy.

4. Under Section 50.1, I challenge whether any of the following claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) "Bioresonance & Nutritional Therapy" can be used to quit smoking with a 90% success rate

(ii) "Bioresonance & Nutritional Therapy" can be used to treat addictions generally

(iii) "Bioresonance & Nutritional Therapy" is effective against pain, stress, eczema, psoriasis, IBS or candida

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

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.healthvibes.co.uk/home.htm
"

Simply Vital - 'we know what bodies need'


If you have only four weeks to tone up, you could always try
walking to Spain for your hols this year. (It might be quicker than waiting at the airport for a flight).


Alternatively, Simply Vital's 'Summer Toner Pack' may be for you!

Naturally, the claims in their advert don't seem to be supported by any of that pesky scientific evidence stuff. ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Natural Health" magazine (May 2010, p121).

The advert, for Simply Vital, promotes a "Summer Toner" pack made up of three kinds of health/weight-loss supplements ("vitalTONE", "vitalSHAPE" and "vitalLIFE").

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

2. Under Section 50.1, I challenge whether whether any of the following claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) The Summer Toner pack "reduce[s] cellulite"
(ii) The Summer Toner pack "prevent[s] bloating"
(iii) The Summer Toner pack "reduce[s] cravings"
(iv) The Summer Toner pack "improve[s] skin defences"

3. The CAP Code, Section 51.1, states "Any claims made for the effectiveness or action of a weight reduction method or product should be backed if appropriate by rigorous trials on people..."

4. Under Section 51.1, I challenge whether the following claim is backed if appropriate by rigorous trials on people:

(i) The Summer Toner pack "increases weight loss"

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

The Acupressure Mat - 'may help with depression'


Have you ever wanted to have your own Indian bed of nails?



Yes, me too! Until one pops up on Ebay, though, we'll have to make do with this rubber 'Acupressure' mat.

It's another thing I'd definitely buy, if I had money to spare for novelties.

Yet again, though, a perfectly reasonable product is ruined by an advertisement with improbable claims like "may help with depression".

As surely as night follows day, an ASA complaint has been submitted.


"I write to complain about an advert in "Natural Health" magazine (May 2010, p114).

The advert, for Pennybridge Health Care Ltd, promotes the "Acupressure Mat".

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 CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

2. I challenge whether any of the following claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) The Acupressure Mat may help with sciatica
(ii) The Acupressure Mat may help with slipped discs
(iii) The Acupressure Mat may help with depression
(iv) The Acupressure Mat may help with fibromyalgia
(v) The Acupressure Mat may help with high or low blood pressure

3. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine, or with the publishing and alternative medicine industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

The Cisca Saltpipe - based on 'ancient salt cave therapy'


Attention novice ASA complainants!



Take a look at this advert for the 'Cisca Saltpipe'.

Then read these 'clinical references', and see if you can spot the problems.

Finally, compare your answers with mine (detailed in this ASA complaint)!

"I write to complain about an advert in "Natural Health" magazine (May 2010, p108).

The advert, for Cisca Ltd, promotes the "Cisca Saltpipe".

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 advertisers, on their website, provide three "clinical references" for the saltpipe[1]. It is noteable that of the "references", none appear to have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals, two lack any control groups at all, and two are trials each involving a group of just ten participants.

2. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

3. I challenge whether any of the following claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people:

(i) The saltpipe is effective for breathing difficulties
(ii) The saltpipe is effective for shortness of breath
(iii) The saltpipe is effective for chesty and dry coughs
(iv) The saltpipe is effective for nasal congestion
(v) Air "draw[n] across...mineral salt" will "reach every part of your respiratory system"
(vi) The saltpipe "induce[s] self cleaning [sic] and improve[s] our breathing without any side effects"

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

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.thesaltpipe.co.uk/medical.htm
"

Surge of Chi - benefits MS and arthritis


Sometimes it's with the utmost reluctance that I submit an ASA complaint. Take this foot-waggling device, for example.



It actually looks rather fun - if magnificently overpriced at £149.95.

And if the advertisers had stuck to plausible claims like these...

"No-impact exercise routine...relieves muscle tension...calms the mind...energises the body...increases circulation"

...there'd be no problems. Unfortunately, the claims above appear in a different advert for a nearly identical device.

Perhaps "Energy for Health" can learn something from their rivals? An
ASA complaint about their advert follows.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Natural Health" magazine (May 2010, p85).

The advert, for "Energy for Health", promotes the "Surge of Chi" exercise device.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of three 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. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

2. I challenge whether the claim that, while using the device, the "body's healing...systems are gently but powerfully stimulated" is backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of clinical trials conducted on people.

3. The CAP Code, Section 14.3, states "Testimonials alone do not constitute substantiation and the opinions expressed in them must be supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy."

4. I challenge whether any of the following claims from the advert's testimonials are supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy:

(i) The device will "benefit greatly" sufferers of multiple sclerosis
(ii) The device is "of use for specific conditions"
(iii) The device can eliminate pain in the arms and legs
(iv) The device is "effective in decompressing and articulating hips, knees and spine, and improving visceral (especially gut) function through the continual passive movement effect"

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

6. I challenge whether the advert is misleading by using "case studies" to suggest the device will help with poor digestion, migraines, asthma, diabetes, lymphodema, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and sciatica.

7. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine, or with the publishing and alternative medicine industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

Betterware - the magnet therapy bracelet


Earlier this month I put in an ASA complaint about Kleeneze and the magnetic products they were selling in their catalogues.



A few days ago, the Betterware catalogue arrived in my letterbox, and it seems even they can't resist the urge to claim that magnets have therapeutic properties.

A third catalogue, from Avon, contained no such claims, and good for them.

Still, agents from the three companies insist on shoving their catalogues through my letterbox - despite the large sign advising them all to get stuffed.

Standard ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert appearing in the Betterware catalogue (Issue 3/10, p62).

The advert promotes a "magnetic therapy bracelet".

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 CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

2. Under Section 50.1, I challenge whether the claim that the bracelet "may help to ease pain around the wrist" is backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people.

3. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or with the home-delivery and alternative medicine industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser."

The Cybertrone - diagnoses cancer by measuring 'energy fields'


The back page of Nexus magazine contains a brazen advertisement for a revolutionary new medical device - the Cybertrone.



According to its manufacturers, the Cybertrone measures the "energy field of the patient" and thus diagnoses "the causes of illnesses and disturbances" such as "bacteria, viruses, fungi, chemicals, pesticides, metals, hormones, cancer..."

I feel a little sceptical about this claim since, if true, it would be the greatest medical breakthrough for thirty years.

The manufacturer's website assures us the Cybertrone has "proof of therapeutic effectiveness", but omits to mention where I can find it. As ever, I'll let the ASA do the dirty work for me.

"I write to complain about an advert in the UK edition of "Nexus" magazine (April-May 2010, Vol 17, No 3, back page).

The advert, for AussiMed Pty. Ltd, promotes the "Cybertrone" "Quantum-Response-Technology" device.

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 Cybertrone is an electonic device which, according to the manufacturers, measures a patients "energy field" and thus diagnoses a wide range of medical conditions [1].

2. My complaint deals solely with the contents of the advertisement in Nexus magazine.

3. Under Section 50.1 of the code, I challenge whether any of the following claims are backed by evidence, if appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people:

(i) The Cybertrone is capable of a "diagnosis" of any medical condition at all

(ii) The Cybertrone is capable of "testing" any "substance" at all

(iii) The Cybertrone is suitable for "dentistry"

(iv) The Cybertrone is suitable for "veterinary use"

(v) The Cybertrone diagnoses with "high accuracy"

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

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.cybertrone.eu/EN%20Information.html
"

Friday, 23 April 2010

*XNEX - 'totally impossible for new fat deposits' to form


It looks like Health Base Direct are advertising all of their weight-loss products on a rotating schedule.


UPDATE, 27 Apr: ASA report "The ASA can only take action against advertisers based in the UK and against ads which appear in UK based publications. Unfortunately, the UK edition of the National Enquirer is produced and printed in the USA and then shipped to the UK. There is no UK editorial office and in determining whether an ad appearing in a publication falls within remit, we have to consider where the office, which is taking the decision to place the ad, is based. Although the advertisers may be based in the UK, we are only able to look into the content of ads which are published within the UK. In this case, the decision to place the ad was made in the US and we cannot consider the matter further."


Which suits me, because I love writing complaints to the ASA about them. And, according to their website, they have dozens of products in stock!

This time next week they should overtake Phentraform as my most frequent complainee.

This complaint concernts XNEX tablets, about which the advertisers, without a hint of shame, claim "Once you've lost those unwanted extra pounds...XNEX will continue to act, making it totally impossible for new fat deposits to build up in your system."

I hope no anorexic teenager ever gets their hands on XNEX! (Advert available here and here.)

"I write to complain about an advert in the UK/Ireland edition of "National Enquirer" (April 26, 2010, p37).

The advert, for "Health Base Direct", promotes "XNEX" weight-loss tablets.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of eleven 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. Under Sections 3.1 and 51.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims made for the effectiveness of the product are backed if appropriate by rigorous trials on people:

(i) XNEX tablets are the "very first 'fat eliminator'
(ii) 4 tablets of XNEX will make you "lose 24lbs"
(iii) Taking one XNEX tablet "every 5 days will enable you to lose 6lbs, guaranteed"
(iv) Users of XNEX will see "a weightloss [sic] of approximately 1 pound after just 8 hours"
(v) XNEX tablets "immediately eliminates the fat 'deposits' on your body's inner surface (stomach, hips, thighs, buttocks...)"
(vi) XNEX tablets "[prevent] any future fat deposits from building up on these same inner surfaces"
(vii) XNEX tablets "[makes] the accumulation of new fat deposits totally impossible"
(viii) Users of XNEX can "stay slim as long as [they] repeat [their] XNEX treatment approximately every 3 months"
(ix) Users of XNEX can lose weight while they "eat and drink whatever [they] want"
(x) XNEX has "Been Proven!!"

2. Under Section 2.1, I challenge whether the text of the advert is "honest and truthful".

3. Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

4. Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims "exploits the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

5. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims are misleading "by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise".

6. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert is misleading by failing to reveal the cost of a call to 0871 numbers.

7. Under Section 51.2, I challenge whether the advertiser is offering to the public a treatment for obesity without suitably qualified supervision.

8. Under Section 51.3, I challenge whether the advert is likely to appeal to people in whom the advertised weight reduction of "up to 24 lbs in 20 days" would "produce a potentially harmful body weight".

9. Under Section 51.8, I challenge whether the advertiser:

(i) Gives prominence to the role of diet
(ii) Gives the impression that "dieters cannot fail or can eat as much as they like and still lose weight"

10. Under Section 51.9, I challenge whether the advertiser claims that "people can lose precise amounts of weight within a stated period" and "from specific parts of the body".

11. Under Section 51.10, I challenge whether the advertiser's claims are "compatible with good medical and nutritional practice".

12. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine, or with the publishing and weight-loss industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

*EnergistX - 'lose 15lbs and more in just 10 days'!


Health Base Direct, whose weight-loss products are so astonishly efficacious that they've chosen to register their company in Western Samoa, are back in this week's UK and Ireland edition of National Enquirer.


UPDATE, 27 Apr: ASA report "
The ASA can only take action against advertisers based in the UK and against ads which appear in UK based publications. Unfortunately, the UK edition of the National Enquirer is produced and printed in the USA and then shipped to the UK. There is no UK editorial office and in determining whether an ad appearing in a publication falls within remit, we have to consider where the office, which is taking the decision to place the ad, is based. Although the advertisers may be based in the UK, we are only able to look into the content of ads which are published within the UK. In this case, the decision to place the ad was made in the US and we cannot consider the matter further.


First up is EnergistX which helps its users "lose 15lbs and more in just 10 days". Some of their satisfied "customers" have lost almost double this in the same period, apparently.

Me, well, I don't believe a word of it.

Standard ASA complaint follows (advert available here and here).

"I write to complain about an advert in the UK/Ireland edition of "National Enquirer" (April 26, 2010, p21).

The advert, for "Health Base Direct", promotes "EnergistX" weight-loss tablets.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of fourteen 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. Under Sections 3.1 and 51.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims made for the effectiveness of the product are backed if appropriate by rigorous trials on people:

(i) EnergistX tablets will make you "Lose 15lbs and more in just 10 days"
(ii) EnergistX tablets "[prevent] calories from food being absorbed by fat cells when you have excess body fat and thus stored calories"
(iii) EnergistX tablets "From Day One...immediately restrict your body to getting its daily calorie needs from only your excess body fat, not the food you eat"
(iv) EnergistX tablets "Quickly [begin] the process of dissolving and eradicating the excess fat and weight that has built up over the years..."
(v) Trials of EnergistX "have shown average weight loss of 15lbs in 10 days"
(vi) Some participants in trials of EnergistX "have lost almost double this [i.e. 30lbs] in the same period [i.e. 10 days]"

2. Under Section 2.1, I challenge whether the text of the advert is "honest and truthful".

3. Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

4. Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims "exploits the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

5. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims are misleading "by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise".

6. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert is misleading by failing to reveal the cost of a call to 0871 numbers.

7. Under Section 14.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds signed and dated proof, including a contact address, for the four testimonials appearing in the advert.

8. Under Section 14.3, I challenge whether the four testimonials in the advert are supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy.

9. Under Section 51.2, I challenge whether the advertiser is offering to the public a treatment for obesity without suitably qualified supervision.

10. Under Section 51.3, I challenge whether the advert is likely to appeal to people in whom the advertised weight reduction of "15lbs and more in just 10 days" would "produce a potentially harmful body weight".

11. Under Section 51.4, I challenge whether the advertiser has shown that weight reduction is achieved by loss of body fat before making claims for EnergistX tablets.

12. Under Section 51.8, I challenge whether the advertiser:

(i) Makes clear how EnergistX tablets work
(ii) Gives prominence to the role of diet
(iii) Gives the impression that "dieters cannot fail or can eat as much as they like and still lose weight"

13. Under Section 51.9, I challenge whether the advertiser claims that "people can lose precise amounts of weight within a stated period".

14. Under Section 51.10, I challenge whether the advertiser's claims are "compatible with good medical and nutritional practice".

15. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine, or with the publishing and weight-loss industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

Thursday, 22 April 2010

*Phentraform UK Ltd - up to their old tricks


After my
last three complaints, I was sure Phentraform UK would sit down and re-evaluate their marketing campaign.

What was the result?

Have they decided to do the right thing?

Have they sent back their unsold boxes of Quickslimmers, closed down their business and issued a sincere apology to all their customers?

Errr... no. Phentraform are back in this week's Rotherham Record (adverts available here).

UPDATE, 31 May: The ASA have replied to convey Phentraform's explanation. According to them, Phentraform say the advert was published in error, and will not be published again. Amazingly enough, that was the same excuse they gave last time!


This dainty damsel, by the way, is
Evette (woof woof!)

When she finds this blogpost,
perhaps she could pass on a little message for me?

"Attention Phentraform Marketing Executives! Yes, I really do check every single newspaper in the UK."

Yet another ASA complaint follows. Potentially twenty-six breaches of the CAP code, by my count.

"I write to complain about two adverts which appeared in the "Rotherham Record" (April 21, 2010, p19).

Both adverts, which are almost adjacent to each other, are for Phentraform UK Ltd (Quickslimmers).

I have submitted complaints about Quickslimmers adverts in the past; for the avoidance of doubt, neither of the adverts in the "Rotherham Record" matches adverts I have brought to your attention in the past.

I don't have a hard copy of the newspaper, but it can be found at the newspaper archive site, PageSuite, at the following address:

http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/digital_editions/Page19_a69de8e9-0f56-4d8e-8476-92fe800826d2_d4f11fe2-d994-475e-a04e-754db1a9417b.aspx

For your convenience, I enclose scans of the two adverts in question.

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of fourteen sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

1. The first advert (black background) states:

"'I lost 9lbs in 1k with' Quickslimmers
A Revolutionary, New, Natural, Appetite Suppressant and Fat Burner"

2. Under Section 2.1, I challenge whether the text of the advert is "honest and truthful".

3. Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

4. Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims "exploits the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

5. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims are misleading "by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise".

6. Under Section 14.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds signed and dated proof, including a contact address, for the testimonial ("I lost 9lbs in 1wk with") appearing in the advert:

7. Under Section 14.3, I challenge whether the testimonial is supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of its accuracy.

8. Under Sections 3.1 and 51.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove any of the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims made for the effectiveness of the product are backed if appropriate by rigorous trials on people:

(i) Quickslimmer tablets are natural
(ii) Quickslimmer tablets suppress the appetite
(iii) Quickslimmer tablets burn fat

9. Under Section 51.2, I challenge whether the advertiser is offering to the public a treatment for obesity without suitably qualified supervision.

10. Under Section 51.3, I challenge whether the advert is likely to appeal to people in whom the advertised weight reduction of "9lbs in 1wk" would "produce a potentially harmful body weight".

11. Under Section 51.4, I challenge whether the advertiser has shown that weight reduction is achieved by loss of body fat before making claims for Quickslimmers.

12. Under Section 51.8, I challenge whether the advertiser:

(i) Makes clear how Quickslimmers tablets work
(ii) Gives prominence to the role of diet

13. Under Section 51.9, I challenge whether the advertiser claims that "people can lose precise amounts of weight within a stated period".

14. Under Section 51.10, I challenge whether the advertiser's claims are "compatible with good medical and nutritional practice".

15. The second advert (white background) states:

"Trying to Lose Weight? Diet Failing? Always Hungry? No Energy? You Need Quickslimmers! The UK's Most Powerful and Effective Natural Slimming Pills"

16. Under Section 2.1, I challenge whether the text of the advert is "honest and truthful".

17. Under Section 2.2, I challenge whether the advert has been "prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society".

18. Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims "exploits the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

19. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the advert's weight loss claims are misleading "by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise".

20. Under Sections 3.1 and 51.1, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claim, and I challenge whether the claim made for the effectiveness of the product is backed if appropriate by rigorous trials on people:

(i) Quickslimmer pills are "The UK's Most Powerful and Effective Natural Slimming Pills"

21. Under Section 51.2, I challenge whether the advertiser is offering to the public a treatment for obesity without suitably qualified supervision.

22. Under Section 51.4, I challenge whether the advertiser has shown that weight reduction is achieved by loss of body fat before making claims for Quickslimmers.

23. Under Section 51.8, I challenge whether the advertiser:

(i) Makes clear how Quickslimmers tablets work
(ii) Gives prominence to the role of diet

24. 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."

*Ray Balmain - cancer cure specialist


Ray Balmain is one of those odious little men who claims to "beat" cancer with his magical fingers.


UPDATE, 26 Apr: Consumer Direct report that complaint has been passed to Trading Standards

UPDATE, 27 Apr: ASA report that complaint has been passed to its compliance team


Ray first came to my attention via this advert in Kindred Spirit magazine, in which he boldly claims we'll all be "amazed by his abilities".

Wanting to know more, I rushed over to his website and found material which is almost certainly an offence under the Cancer Act 1939.

Here is my letter to Trading Standards...

"I write to complain about the website www.rjbhealing.com which advertises the services of a Ray Balmain of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Mr Balmain, who describes himself as a "spiritual healer", charges between £10-£20 for his services.

I submit that the contents of his website are in breach of the Cancer Act 1939.

Specifically:

1. In the Section marked '[4] Media', Mr Balmain displays a newspaper article with the headline "Hands-on therapy beat my cancer".

I submit that this is a contravention of the Cancer Act 1939.

2. In the same section, Mr Balmain displays another newspaper (or magazine) article with the headline "Hands-on Therapy Beat Cancer".

I submit that this is a further contravention of the Cancer Act 1939.

3. In the Section marked '[6] More Media', Mr Balmain displays a magazine front-cover with the headline "Healing hands over my cancer-riddled body".

I submit that this is a third contravention of the Cancer Act 1939.

I confirm that I have no connections to Mr Balmain, or to the alternative medicine industry in general."

...and another one to the ASA.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Kindred Spirit" magazine (May/June 2010, Issue 104, p75).

The advert promotes Ray Balmain, an "amazing healer".

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

3. 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) Ray Balmain has the "ability...to heal the sick"
(ii) Ray Balmain's abilities are "amazing"
(iii) Ray Balmain is able to perform "absent Healing"

4. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

*Michael Cohen, the 'International expert'


Michael Cohen - founder of the "Raphayad Bioenergy Healing Clinic" - says he "specialises in treating DIFFICULT and DEBILITATING CONDITIONS" - either at his London clinic, or at great distances!


UPDATE, 27 Apr: ASA report "Our compliance team has agreed to take up the case and they will contact the advertiser directly...Please note that they will not be looking into your concerns about the 'difficult and debilitating symptoms' they claim to treat. The ad does not make mention of a specific illness and also does not claim to treat illnesses themselves, merely the symptoms of them, which is not in breach of the CAP Code."


I'll give Michael the chance to prove it, before I make fun of him.

ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert in "Kindred Spirit" magazine (May/June 2010, Issue 104, p75).

The advert, for the Raphayad Bioenergy Healing Clinic, promotes on-site and distance treatment of "difficult and debilitating symptoms".

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

3. 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) Joanne Cohen and Michael Cohen can "[treat] DIFFICULT and DEBILITATING symptoms" using their "technique"
(ii) The technique can "access the bioelectromagnetic field to rewire the brain and physical body"
(iii) The technique can be used in "Distance...Treatment"

4. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the magazine or with the alternative medicine industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the magazine."

*Kindred Spirit Magazine - extremely irresponsible


The May 2010 issue of
Kindred Spirit magazine invites its readers to take out a subscription, and in case that's not tempation enough, generously offer six "free crystals from Dolphin Minerals" into the bargain.

UPDATE, 1 May: ASA report "We have reviewed the claims...and, as the content appears to be in breach of previous ASA adjudications and our established position I have passed the matter to our Compliance team for their attention"


I think the claims that the magazine make for the crystals are extremely irresponsible.

Let's see what the ASA have to say.
(The advert is available here and here.)

"I write to complain about an advert in "Kindred Spirit" magazine (May/June 2010, Issue 104, p68-69).

The advert, for Diamond Publishing, promotes a yearly subscription package for the magazine which includes "six free crystals from Dolphin Minerals".

I suspect that the advert may be in breach of two 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. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

2. The CAP Code, Section 50.1, states "Medical and scientific claims made about beauty and health-related products should be backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people..."

3. 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) "Some of the healing properties of Rhodochrosite are stimulating circulation and blood pressure, kidneys and reproductive organs."
(ii) Preseli Bluestone "focuses energy to the ear, nose and throat"
(iii) Jet "neutralizes [sic] negative energies, releases stress, and provides Psychic protection and purification"
(iv) Jet "is used in healing to aid the cleansing of the liver and kidneys"
(v) Bronzite "aids the assimilation of iron, and increases the acidity within the body"
(vi) Almandine garnet can be "used to heal skin conditions associated with poor circulation...improve vigor [sic], strength and endurance"
(vii) Almandine garnet can "[stimulate] success in business"
(viii) Tektite "can be used for all autoimmune problems, skin disorders and for draining illnesses"

3. I confirm that I have no connections with the magazine or the publishing industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the magazine."