Thursday, 5 August 2010

Kindred Spirit (part n) - protection against SARS

Kindred Spirit is a terribly tiresome magazine, the bullshit-laden contents of which is slowly eating away at my will to live.

Here's yet another complaint about the loathsame claims to be found in its pages.

By far the most irresponsible one is the colloidal silver product, pictured above, which is claimed to "provide a degree of protection against modern viruses such as SARS [and] Bird Flu".

Another KS-inspired ASA complaint follows, and it won't be the last one today! (The adverts can be viewed here and here.)

"I write to complain about an advert which appeared in "Kindred Spirit" magazine, Summer 2010 issue, p68-69. The advert promotes a number of products.

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

This complaint is not related to other complaints I have submitted recently about Kindred Spirit magazine.

I draw your attention to paragraph (7)(i), in which I complain of a product promoted as protective against SARS and Bird Flu.

Item 1: "Bee Prepared"

1. (i) "Bee Prepared" is a food supplement whose primary ingredient is apparently "Bee propolis".

(ii) Propolis is a natural resin produced in beehives. Its composition varies greatly depending on location, climate and species of bee, so the results of the few available clinical studies are not necessarily applicable to all propolis products.

(iii) Some clinical studies on propolis are available. I have been unable to find any studies demonstrating that propolis can "boost the immune system and ward off summer colds and flu".

(iv) I cannot find any product-specific studies. I cannot find any information about what variety of propolis the product contains.

2. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantitate the following claims:

(i) Bee Propolis can "boost the immune system and ward off summer colds and flu"
(ii) Bee Propolis is a "highly effective antiviral" when "taken at the first sign of illness", and can "help kick start the immune system to prevent infection and build up the body's resistance to germs"
(iii) The implication that Bee Propolis has "anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help maintain a healthy immune system"

Item 2: "Celgenics - vibrationally charged skincare"

3. The "Celgenics skincare range" is a set of moisturisers and related products.

4. Under Section 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate the following claims:

(i) The products are a "great success" with people who cannot use other moisturisers
(ii) The "natural vibrational energy" the products contain have "proved to be very successful"

Item 3: "Colloidal silver"

5. The ASA has on several occasions advised against adverts promoting colloidal silver.

6. Under Section 3.1 and 50.1, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate the following claim:

(i) The product has the claimed anti-microbial properties, which act "as the first line of defence against infection, relieving the immune system to do what it does best"

7. (i) The advert contains the statement "We theorise that trace silver could provide a degree of protection against modern viruses such as SARS, Bird Flu and others as well".

(ii) Under Section 6.1, I challenge whether the wording of this statement is likely to "exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

(iii) I further challenge whether this statement is in breach of Sections 50.11 and 50.13.

Item 4: "Weleda Rosemary Hair Lotion"

8. I have been unable to find any studies demonstrating that the product, or rosemary extracts in general, can cure dandruff or stimulate the circulation.

9. Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate the following claims::

(i) The product is a remedy for dandruff
(ii) The product stimulates circulation

Item 5: "Incognito spray"

10. The product is a mosquito repellant whose active ingredient is "eucalyptus maculata citriodora".

11. A 2007 study published in the BMJ demonstrates that the ingredient is effective in reducing malaria, especially when used in conjunction with treated mosquito nets [1].

12. My complaint is that, although eucalyptus maculata citriodora is of proven effectiveness, the advert misleadingly states it is the product itself which is "clinically proven to protect against malaria". Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the advertisers hold product-specific evidence to substantiate that claim.

13. (i) The advert contains the text "It will keep away all mosquitoes and other insects".

(ii) The above quoted study demonstrates that the incidence of malaria was reduced, not eliminated, with the use of a repellant. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the statement "It will keep away all mosquitoes..." misleadingly exaggerates the effectiveness of the active ingredient.

(iii) The study states "we consider [the ingredient's] potential use against other insect-borne diseases should be investigated".

(iv) Under Section 3.1, I challenge whether the advertiser can substantiate their claim that the product will "keep away...other insects" (i.e., insects other than mosquitoes)

14. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.



  1. incognito has been fully tested by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine where it has been reported to work against all insects. Its new active ingredient has achieved 100% efficacy against one of the worlds most aggressive mosquitoes, Anopheles gambia, in all tests conducted by the LSHTM. Indeed, Trading Standards and the HSE have substantiated the claims. Which is also why it has been widely on sale in the UK for over 3 years

    I am sorry you do not like our advertisements. We our no longer advertising with Kindred Spirit.

    Yours, H Carter, Co Secretary of incognito anti-mosquito.
    PS: There is a scent spray, spelt with a capital I, that may actually attract insects!

  2. Hi Howard,

    Thanks for your feedback. We both agree that the incognito spray's active ingredient is of proven efficacy - I hope my complaint was clear on that point.

    The matter in doubt is one of wording: the ASA often require health claims to be substantiated by product-specific clinical evidence, especially for those products used to treat (or prevent) serious diseases like malaria.

    Can you tell me where I can read the research to which you refer? I'd be happy to put a large correction at the top of the page, if necessary.

    Another thing you can do is to contact the ASA's copy advice team - they can offer you clear advice about whether product-specific evidence is required for this claim. This would be helpful for anyone who wants to advertise the product in the future.

    It may be the case that the only change necessary is in the wording of the ad - to make clear that the evidence refers to the active ingredient. (Many advertisers take this route when product-specific evidence is not available, and it seems to not be a breach of the CAP Code.)


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