The Compliance team monitored all slimming advertisements in a sample of womenâ€™s magazines and regional newspapers published in January 2005. January was considered to be a month in which many advertisements for slimming products and services were likely to appear.
Where a breach of the Code was identified, the Compliance team wrote to the advertiser and asked for a written assurance that the advertisement would be withdrawn or amended. The advertiser was asked to send an assurance to that effect. Publishers were informed of the name of the advertiser and the nature of he problem and were asked to ensure the advertisement was amended in line with the Code before it appeared again. Written assurances were received from all the advertisers contacted.
The Compliance team considered only advertisements for slimming products and services. It did not consider advertisements for low fat foods because consumption of such foods cannot be guaranteed to result in weight loss. It did, however, include advertisements for low fat foods advertised by weight loss manufacturers (i.e. Weightwatchers) for consumption during the advertisersâ€™ weight loss programmes and with weight loss as their dominant message.
Each of the advertisements identified as falling within the remit of the survey was categorised by advertiser, newspaper or magazine and product or brand. Each of the products was categorised.
The team noted that most breaches (81% of advertisements including duplicates and 88% excluding duplicates) appeared in advertisements published in the regional press. Advertisements marketing exercise machines also breached those two clauses by making excessive weight loss claims.
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