Complaint about 'excessively unkind' weight loss ad upheld

Complaint about 'excessively unkind' weight loss ad upheld

Complaints that an ad for a weight loss clinic was “excessively unkind” and “ irresponsible” have been upheld by the advertising watchdog.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland did not uphold a complaint that a train station poster for Motivation Weight Management amounted to bullying.

The advert in question was subject to 16 complaints, the most of any of the 13 ads in the latest ASAI report that were found to be in breach of the industry’s self-regulating code.

The Motivation Weight Management poster featured a weighing scales in the foreground with an out-of-focus woman sitting on the floor against a wall with her head down on folded arms in the background.

The strapline of the poster read “If you are happy with your weight don’t call us”.

The 16 complaints alleged the ad was “bullying in content”, featured an “excessively unkind” depiction of the woman in the ad, had the ability to impact on people’s mental health, and was “socially irresponsible and targeted women”.

“A common theme of most complaints was that the woman featured in the advertisement appeared to be of normal weight,” the ASAI said.

The advertisers removed the poster following the criticism and told the ASAI “that even with their intended marketing message, they now realised that the image used in the poster was subjective”.

Meanwhile, nine complaints against a television advert for Lenor Fabric Softener were not upheld. The advert asked if using the product on bedclothes give customers ‘bedgasms’ - a phrase complainants said “was overtly sexual in nature”.

The ASAI said the ad “was light-hearted and humorous and that the content of the advertisement was not sexual in nature”.

Two complaints against ads for the horror film Halloween were upheld on the grounds that they were screened on Virgin Media channels before the watershed. The ASAI complaints committee said the content of the adverts were “likely to frighten and disturb young viewers” and should not have been broadcast before 9pm.

A complaint against a Facebook video by Smyths Homevalue in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford was also upheld. The video featured a man dressed entirely in black, with his face and hands painted black, outlining what products were on offer as part of the store’s “Black Friday” sale.

Responding to the criticism, the store said the video was an homage to Ireland’s rugby victory over the New Zealand All Blacks, but that it removed the video on the day it was posted following feedback from “a very limited number of people who noted their displeasure”.

The Committee said the video was in breach of ASAI code and that it “considered that the advertisement had not been responsive to the diversity in Irish society”.

A complaint against a radio advert for the Sunday Business Post in which the newspaper’s journalists were described as “young and dynamic” was upheld on the grounds that “the reference to age would reasonably give rise to offence”.

The sole complainant said she was “disgusted” by the advert and said it was ageist and discriminatory.

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