Now the festive cheer and feasting are over, the New Year usually ushers in a cornucopia of ads offering ways to get back in shape. This is a very tightly regulated category, so we’ve put together some of the biggest watch-outs to help slim down your clearance time.
All claims in ads must be substantiated before they are approved for broadcast. The substantiation or scientific evidence for weight loss claims will need to be particularly robust. It’s highly likely we’ll send the script and evidence to one of our consultants for appraisal – we’re experts in the advertising regulations; our consultants are expert nutritionists, physiologists and more.
Over 18s Only
Ads in this category must not be addressed to or likely to appeal to under-18s (through the treatment or the people featured in the ad for example). Slimming ads may not be broadcast in or around programmes commissioned for, or of strong appeal to, under-18s. If in doubt about the audience breakdown of particular programmes, contact the relevant broadcaster before buying airtime. It’s worth noting that calorie-reduced products can escape this restriction as long as they aren’t presented as an aid to slimming.
Promises and Predictions
The BCAP code is unambiguous here: ‘Promises and predictions of specific weight loss are not acceptable for any slimming product.’ – rule 12.7
The BCAP code goes into detail over what’s permissible for testimonials in this category – check rule 12.9 for the specifics but in a nut shell: if an amount of weight loss is specified by the individual concerned, then a time frame must also be given. It will need to be a safe rate of weight loss, generally a max of 2lbs a week. Bear in mind we will still need robust evidence for the product/plan – a testimonial alone isn’t enough to make slimming claims.
There can be no suggestion that being underweight is desirable. No-one featured can have a BMI below 20.
Up until recently ads in this category could not be targeted at or feature obese people, specialist clinics excepted. This is quantified as having a BMI of 30 or above. In November 2015 CAP updated the rule to allow references to obesity under a strict set of criteria. See CAP’s announcement here for full details.
Those are some of the biggest rules, but see the BCAP code for the full set.