Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Boohoo.com UK Ltd, BoomBod Ltd, Katie Price and Lauren Goodger
Where: United Kingdom
When: 16 October 2019 and 23 October 2019
The ASA upheld three complaints against seven adverts for BoomBod Ltd’s weight loss products on Instagram by BoomBod and influencers Katie Price and Lauren Goodger. It also banned an advert by Boohoo.com featuring “Send Nudes” in the subject line.
BoomBod: health claims
The adverts included statements such as “BOOMBOD WEIGHT LOSS IN A WEEK” and “BANISH NAUGHTY CRAVINGS WITH 10 CALORIES“. The ASA concluded that the statements were specific health claims relating to glucomannan, one of the ingredients in Boombod’s products. Health claims suggest a relationship between a food or ingredient and health and are only permitted in marketing communications for foods and food supplements if they are listed as authorised on the EU Register.
The ASA found that the ads were in breach of the CAP Code because they did not reflect and exaggerated the wording of the authorised health claim for glucomannan. The ads also contained a general health claim, “I feel more fit and toned“, which the ASA emphasised can only be made in relation to foods if accompanied by a relevant specific and authorised health claim.
In addition, comments such as “WEIGHT LOSS IN A WEEK” breached the CAP Code because they refer to a rate or amount of weight loss. The pictures of Price and Goodger with the product suggested that their images (one of which appeared to have been edited to give an artificially thin waist) and lifestyles were aspirational, that they had used the product to lose weight quickly and that those who were already slim needed to suppress their appetite to lose weight, which was an irresponsible message.
Boohoo.com: social responsibility
Boohoo.com’s advert showed a photo of a female model in a beige jacket with the words, “Send nudes. Set the tone with new season hues.” While Boohoo.com said that “nude” was only intended to describe the colour of the wearer’s skin and emphasise the trend for “nude” colours, the ASA found that it breached the CAP Code by being socially irresponsible.
According to the ASA, “send nudes” could be interpreted by Boohoo.com’s 16 to 24 year-old target market as referring to a request for sexual photographs, which could be a form of sexual harassment, and that pressure to share this kind of photo had brought about negative outcomes for young people.
Why this matters:
These decisions highlight businesses’ responsibilities towards consumers, particularly those with a younger target market, and their duty to think carefully about the potential connotations of their advertising claims and slogans.
Businesses must not:
- make specific health claims about foods or food supplements unless these are listed as authorised on the EU Register;
- make general health claims about foods or food supplements unless they are accompanied by a relevant specific, authorised health claim;
- make health claims for foods which refer to a rate or amount of weight loss;
- promote weight loss products in an irresponsible way; or
- use socially irresponsible marketing slogans, particularly with regard to their target audience.