ASA ban Proactiv acne product ads after spotting difference in UK and US versions
18th July 2012
A company who use various celebrities to promote their range of skincare products have been slapped down with a ban from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for misleading claims in their television adverts. Advertisements for a supposed 'miracle' spot cream have been played repeatedly in the UK on a shopping channel, starring acne-plagued pop stars such as Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. However, watchdogs have now put an end to this advertising campaign. The ads for Proactiv’s acne products depict Perry endorsing Proactiv and subsequently informing viewers how the products had helped to banish her skin problems. More ads on Proactiv’s website show Bieber, Elle Macpherson and Avril Lavigne giving their seal of approval. However, the chain of events that kick-started the removal of the ads from the shopping channel and other sources was initiated after a woman decided to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority, stating that the promotional adverts were misleading to viewers because the British versions of the products do not contain the same active ingredient included in the American brand. The woman who filed the complaint to the ASA had a very good point when she argued that it was more plausible the celebrity endorsers would have used Proactiv's American version, and not the UK one. Guthy-Renker UK Ltd (GRUK), the direct marketing company responsible for the controversial ads, attempted to deflect any criticism and claimed that featured ‘stars’ had been given the UK formulations of Proactiv products to try. Despite their protestations however, the ASA have now forbid the ads on the grounds that the adverts suggest skin improvements are seen from continual usage of the product, whilst five of the seven celebrity backers said that they had merely used the UK Proactiv range for just ‘several weeks.’ A statement made by an ASA spokesperson said, “We considered the overall impression of the ads was that the celebrities were continued and regular users of Proactiv and noted the same endorsement claims were included on the US Proactiv website. We noted the signed statements, which related to only five of the seven testimonials, said the celebrities had each used the UK formulation of the product for a period of only several weeks, between one and three years before the ads appeared. We noted the ads were targeted at a UK audience and that the UK Proactiv products had a different active ingredient to the US version. In that context, we therefore considered the claims of continued use had not been substantiated. We concluded that the ads were misleading. The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told GRUK to ensure endorsements and testimonials in future ads related to the product being advertised.” Medical Specialists Pharmacy are always fully honest with our patients and do not mislead - the products listed on our website are exactly what you get. If you are a woman who is suffering from acne, we have various highly effective treatments available to help you. Dianette is one such medication. Your body makes both male and female sex hormones and the hormones (androgens) stimulate the grease-glands in your skin and hairs that grow from it. If you produce too much androgen, or if you are particularly sensitive to their effects, the grease glands may produce too much sebum. This can block the grease-glands, which can become infected and inflamed causing acne spots. The main action of a special hormone in this medicine (cyproterone acetate) stops androgens affecting the skin. Dianette is also an oral contraception for women and can work to treat hirsutism or female hair loss. A six month course will cost the equivalent of just £9.99 per month. Alternative treatment is the non-hormonal medication Spironolactone. This medication has actually been used for over 20 years as an anti-androgen in the treatment of acne and hirsutism, and is currently the most widely prescribed medication for these problems in North America. Treatment works out from as little as £17.63 per month following an online consultation with one of our doctors.