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Hair care beware: Online claims are monitored just as stringently

By Andrew MCDOUGALL , 09-Nov-2012
Last updated the 03-May-2013 at 10:02 GMT

Following months of misleading, the Advertising Standards Authority has once again clamped down on claims made by cosmetics firms, this time warning that online adverts and websites must not misinform.

Traditionally, the UK watchdog has singled out TV and print advertising that makes claims or misleads consumers over the efficacy of a product and this has seen a string of companies fall short in the last few months.

In the last month alone, the ASA rapped Purity Labs for tooth whitening claims made ; Dior felt the heat for misleading mascara claims made in a print advert; and retailer Boots saw its adverts banned for implying that products were organic .

Online monitored too

Ensuring that it all aspects of marketing are regulated consistently, the ASA also says that online advertising must follow the same rules: “We expect all advertising online to be legal, decent, honest and truthful.”

In particular the latest focus has been on hair care manufacturers, and drawing on the Boots example, products that claim to be organic.

“The ASA has previously published adjudications against advertisers who claimed that their hair care range or products were ‘organic’,” says the watchdog.

“The ASA considered that, where a hair care range or product is described as organic, consumers are likely to infer that the product or range meets an independently defined organic standard.”

As there is no independently defined standard in existence for such products in the UK, the ASA considers the inclusion of the claim “organic” as misleading.

Non-compliance

One of the most recent online advertisers to be caught out by the watchdog is hair care manufacturer Philip Martin’s.

The US-based firm were caught out for making misleading organic claims in print ads , but this has extended to its online marketing as the CAP Compliance Team contacted Philip Martin’s about the advertising of its organic hair care and organic colour products on its website.

Due to Philip Martin’s refusal to provide an assurance that it will amend its website, the ASA then placed the company on its list of non-compliant online advertisers.

“These details remain in place until such time as Philip Martin’s has removed or appropriately amended the claims on its website to ensure compliance with the CAP Code,” says the ASA.

At the time of publishing, the hair care manufacturer is still highlighted on the list.

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