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Ad for slimming tablets banned after complaint it showed women who were too thin

The ASAI said that the ad mustn’t be shown in its current form again.

AN AD FOR slimming tablets has been banned after a complaint that the women in the ad looked too thin and young.

The ad for XLS Medical Max Strength (below in a French version) shows a young woman who receives a photograph of her friend and chats to her about how she lost weight before her holidays.

A female voiceover says:

“Take new XLS Medical Max Strength to reduce calorie intake from carbohydrates, sugar and fat. So you can lose weight faster.”

Willems Michael / YouTube

The complainant contacted the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) to say that the models were young girls and both were very thin.

She was concerned that the use of such models could lead teenagers to believe that they should lose weight when they did not need to do so.

She also noted that the advertisers’ website stated that the product was for people with a BMI of 18.5 or over.

In response, the advertisers said that XLS Medical Max Strength was a Type 11b medical device certified under the EU Medical Device Directive 93/42/EEC for general weight management and the prevention and treatment of excess weight and general weight management.

They said that the advertising in question had been subjected to rigorous checks, prior to airing, to support the use of the product and the messaging regarding responsible weight management.

The advertisers confirmed that the actresses featured were over 18 years of age.

One of the women was 24 years old at the time of filming and the second woman was 29 years old at the time of filming, and both had a BMI of greater than 19.

xls ad YouTube YouTube

The advertisers said that the product was not recommended to those aged 18 or under, unless under the supervision of a healthcare professional, “and therefore the advertising was not targeted at a young audience nor had it been placed in or around programmes which had an appeal to young people”.

They said their product was not recommended to those with a BMI of less than 18.5, under any circumstances, and this information was stated clearly both on the pack and the leaflet of the product, and also on their website as indicated by the complainant.

The advertisers said they take their responsibilities “very seriously” in advertising their products for weight management. They said they always focus on promoting a healthy body image and lifestyle, while also ensuring consumers “are best equipped with all the relevant information to ensure that they use the products in a healthy and sensible fashion”.

Of the concerns that the models featured were of ‘normal weight’ and therefore the advertising was in breach of Section 9.5 of the Code, the advertisers said that:

before airing the television advertisement, they had edited the appearance of the model in order to make her appear to have a BMI of 25 and that after using the product, she then obtained a healthy BMI.

The complaint was upheld. The ASAI’s complaint committee noted the age of the actors involved in the advertising and did not consider that they appeared to be young girls.

They referred to Section 9.5 of the Code which required that “A marketing communication should not suggest that persons of normal weight need to slim”.

While they noted that actress B had been enhanced to portray what the advertisers considered to be a woman with a BMI of 25 or over, the committee did not consider that the enhancement had shown a woman with a BMI of 25 or over. In the circumstances, the committee considered that a woman of ‘normal weight’ had been featured which was in breach of Section 9.5 of the Code.

The advertising should not run in its current form again, said the committee.

Read: A bar’s ‘Bottomless Prosecco’ deal is among three ads given a slap on the wrist>

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