The television ad featured an American singer who endorsed Guthy-Renker’s product while the website included testimonials from several other American celebrities even though it was aimed at a UK audience.
The complainant challenged the company as to whether the testimonials and endorsements in ads (a) and (b) were misleading, because she believed the celebrities were likely to have used the American formulation of Proactiv, which contained an active ingredient that was not present in the UK formulation.
Guthy-Renker UK said each of the celebrities featured had been sent the UK formulations of various Proactiv Solution products for their use, adding that they held talent agreements with each of the celebrities, in which they agreed to give testimonials about the products the company had sent them.
Furthermore, the company said that many of the Proactiv Solution products had only one formulation that was used in the US and the UK but using different brand names and packaging.
They also submitted signed statements from five of the celebrities, which said they had received and used the UK formulations of Proactiv products, while promising that they would submit other statements as soon as they were able to obtain them.
The Association reported that its decision was delayed from being published while an independent reviewer took over, one that has recently revealed it is backing the ASA's adjudication and upheld the claims.
It noted the letter GRUK submitted, and the agreements also stating that any such statement would be factually accurate and would represent the celebrity's honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences.
The ASA also acknowledged the statements submitted from five of the seven celebrities that had appeared in the ads, stating that the celebrities had used the UK Proactiv products for 'several weeks': during 2008; in two instances during 2009; and in two instances during 2010.
Nevertheless, the it says that it was the signed statement from that celebrity indicating that she had used the UK formulation of the product for "several weeks during 2009" that was likely to be interpreted as suggesting the celebrity's skin continued to benefit from using the product when the ad was viewed in August 2011.
"The veracity of the testimonials was not being challenged, but only whether they were relevant to the Proactiv products available to the UK audience at which the ads were targeted. As a result of this, the ads must not appear again in their current form. We told GRUK to ensure endorsements and testimonials in future ads related to the product being advertised."