ASA Cracks Down on Irresponsible Cosmetic Surgery Ads

Posted on 22 July 2016
The Advertising Standards Authority is responsible for regulating advertising of all media in the UK, including cosmetic surgery. Each week, the ASA publishes its rulings on cases that have been escalated to it by consumers, and in early July 2016, it ruled that a Manchester-based national cosmetic surgery chain had overstepped the mark with its latest television advert.

The commercial, which featured a 21-year-old fashion blogger called Sarah Ashcroft, was flagged up to the ASA by one viewer who believed that it exploited young women’s body insecurities by implying that breast implants would make them more popular and confident.

In the advert, Ms. Ashcroft tells viewers that she “never really looked at any part of my body past my neck” as she was very self-conscious. Following her decision to use the services of a Transform Clinic surgeon, she goes onto say that she’s “like a new person” post-surgery and claims to feel “ten times more confident”.

Although the cosmetic surgery clinic says the fashion blogger’s views were unscripted, it is representative of many young women who choose to undergo breast enhancement procedures, and that filming took place after Sarah had paid for her operation, the Advertising Standards Agency decided that the commercial breached BCAP Code rules 4.1 (Harm and Offence) and 1.2 (Social Responsibility). The Agency came to its conclusion due to the advert’s focus on Sarah’s personal experience (N.B., she has more than 500,000 followers on social media) which it believes would directly appeal to teenage girls and young women. It also objected to the negative body image comments expressed by Sarah as it was concerned they could lead female viewers to dwell on their own body insecurities.

The ASA’s ruling states that the advert must not appear again in its current form as the Agency has deemed it irresponsible and likely to cause harm to viewers under the age of 18.

As you may have seen, the General Medical Council has recently introduced rigorous new standards for doctors performing cosmetic procedures, which states that surgeons and cosmetic clinics must be ‘clear and factual’ in their advertising and marketing. Liberate strongly agrees with the GMC’s approach as we believe that ethical plastic surgeons should never take advantage of patients suffering from low self-esteem and you can find out more about this in one of our previous blog posts.

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