In a TV advert for Olay Regenerist skin cream containing pentapeptides a voice-over states that a study presented at the World Congress of Dermatology showed that the ingredients are effective in reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
After receiving a complaint from a doctor challenging whether there was scientific evidence to support this claim, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched its own investigation.
The UK-based advertising watchdog scrutinized data submitted by Procter & Gamble (P&G), including a study published in the peer reviewed International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2005).
Insignificant changes recorded
Concluding that the ad should not be broadcast again in its current form, the ASA said: “the magnitude of changes recorded in both papers were so small that they were not sufficient to support the claim.”
The ASA also said the majority of test subjects in the published paper reported no effect and the assessing dermatologist in the unpublished paper similarly reported no effect.
The same viewer also complained that the mention of a paper presented at the World Congress of Dermatology would misleadingly imply that the results were supported by the scientific community.
The ASA again agreed, saying that viewers unfamiliar with the way in which scientific data was validated, may well believe that the paper was endorsed by a large scientific meeting.
Misleading comparison with cosmetic injections
Other viewers also picked up on the comparison made with cosmetic surgery in the ad. The voice-over begins: “I’m Eve Cameron, beauty journalist. Women who aren’t ready for cosmetic injections constantly ask me to recommend a skin cream that really works.”
Two viewers said this reference, when considered alongside the efficacy claims for Olay Regenerist, implied that similar effects could be achieved with the skin cream as with cosmetic procedures.
The ASA agreed that the ad implied that Olay Regenerist was capable of producing similar dramatic results and because it saw no evidence to support that, the watchdog said the ad could mislead.