Miracle Megnesium / R Jobson / 21307
|Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
|In the matter between:
|Professor M Roy Jobson
|Platinum Lifestyle Products cc
25 Apr 2013
Professor Jobson lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s print advertisement appearing in the Vrouekeur Magazine during November 2012.
The advertisement is headed “Miracle Magnesium Magnesium van die DOOIE SEE” (Miracle Magnesium Magnesium from the DEAD SEE). It proposes that people with diabetes may have lower magnesium levels, and that Magnesium is vital for regulating blood sugar and the prevention of calcification of blood vessels. The claims is also made that this product is the best type of Magnesium for internal absorption because it provides more Magnesium per millilitre than the tablet form.
It further contains some photographs of people suffering from Diabetes, Psoriasis, Swollen feet as well as an image of a slender lady with the words “Gewigsverlies” (Weight loss).
It then lists several medical conditions with a tick next to each as well as two testimonials, one (from an “A Strauss”) claiming that the product resulted in lowered blood pressure, and another (from an “W Pretorius”) claiming that the product resulted in her tumour shrinking.
In essence, the complainant submitted that the advertisement oversimplifies and confuses the role that Magnesium plays when ingested by humans. He explained that Magnesium is not very well absorbed from the intestinal tract, it usually only acts as a mild laxative. However, the complainant has not seen any evidence that taking Magnesium orally has efficacy for all the conditions listed in the advertisement. He also argued why several of the other claims made in the advertisement require substantiation.
He added that, in the absence of evidence, the name or reference to being “miraculous” (as in “Miracle Magnesium) was misleading.
RELEVANT CLAUSE OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
The complainant identified the following clauses of the Code as relevant:
• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation
• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims
All reasonable attempts were made by the ASA Directorate to elicit a response from the advertiser, but the advertiser failed to respond.
ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation at hand.
At the outset it is noted that this is a continuation of an earlier complaint ruled on, which only dealt with the issue of testimonials (see Miracle Magnesium / R Jobson / 21307 (19 March 2013).
The current dispute effectively only deals with whether or not the respondent has any evidence as required by the Code for its efficacy claims. As noted above, no response was received, and the Directorate therefore had no option but to rule on the matter based on the information at hand.
Name of the product
In essence, the complainant argued that there is nothing miraculous about this product, and therefore the name is likely to mislead people.
In Miracle Comfrey / K Charleston / 20878 (28 February 2013), the Directorate considered a similar objection. It ruled, inter alia, as follows:
“... Clause 4.2.2 of Section II (Puffery) [clarifies that] value judgements or subjective assessments are permissible provided that what is being expressed is clearly and opinion and not likely to be taken as a literal claim.
The name (which the respondent clarified is its registered company name) does not create any expectation other than communicating that the respondent regards this product as a miracle product. Clearly this is a matter of opinion, and the Directorate does not believe a reasonable person would interpret it as anything more.
Based on this, the Directorate does not share the complainant’s view that the product (actually company) name ‘miracle Comfrey’ is deceptive or misleading in terms of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code.
This aspect of the complaint is accordingly dismissed”.
While the current respondent does not have a company name that contains the word “Miracle”, the Directorate is satisfied that the general approach in regarding the name as little more than puffery still applies.
Accordingly, the Directorate does not find the product name “Miracle Magnesium” to be misleading or in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code.
Efficacy claims made
Clause 4.1 of Section II requires advertisers to hold verification for all direct or implied claims that are capable of objective verification. The claims disputed by the complaint in his letter of complaint are all capable of objective substantiation, which means that this clause applies.
The complainant elaborated on why the claims are not likely to be true, and also pointed out that there is no definitive evidence of efficacy for this product in relation to any of the illnesses or conditions listed, or in terms of how the product operates and assists, or of its superiority in comparison to orally ingested magnesium.
The respondent opted to ignore the complaint and the request for a response from the advertiser, and in doing so, has not put anything before the Directorate to refute the allegations made by the complainant, or to convince the Directorate that it has adequate substantiation as required by Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.
Accordingly, the Directorate has no option but to find that the advertisement and the claims appearing therein are currently unsubstantiated and in contravention of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.
The respondent is therefore required to:
- Withdraw the advertisement and any and all direct or implied efficacy claims from its advertising,
- Ensure that it takes action to withdraw these claims with immediate effect from the date of this ruling,
- Ensure that the claims are withdrawn within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and
- Not use these claims again in future until new substantiation has been submitted, evaluated, and a new ruling issued.
This aspect of the complaint is upheld.
In light of the fact that an adverse ruling has been issued and the respondent has not responded, the Directorate will issue an Ad-Alert to its members requesting them not to accept any advertising from the respondent unless advised otherwise by the ASA.