ASA comes down hard on ads targeting impotent men

pharmica 1The ad watchdog has slapped down two separate campaigns promoting erectile dysfunction treatments reinforcing the rules that prescription-only medicines are banned from being advertised to the public.

Both were paid-for Google ads; the first, for online pharmacy Pharmica featured text that stated “Buy Erection Treatment £7.19 – Lowest UK Price Guarantee. Get 10% Off All ED Treatment. Easily Treat Erectile Dysfunction … Spring Sale: 10% off ED Tablets Today Code ED10”.

The second, for online pharmacy Numan, featured text that stated “60% Off ED Treatments … Unlock stronger erections with clinically proven treatments. Buy online from £1.25/tablet … End of Season: 60% off ED Tablets For Men”.

Following two complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority launched separate investigations.

In response, Pharmica did not believe the ad had promoted prescription-only medicines at all. It pointed out that neither the ad, nor the landing page to which it linked, included any terms or text relating to POMs. It believed the term “ED Tablets” could refer to either POM or non-POM ED treatments, adding that the savings claim in the ad did not refer to POMs specifically, and said the price promotion had not been used in an attempt to upsell specific POMs.

Meanwhile, Numan owner Vir Health explained that it offered a digital health service, providing online consultations and information for a range of health conditions. Its website offered pharmacy medication, blood tests, consultations, and POMs for erectile dysfunction.

It claimed that those products and services were presented in an informational style, with no treatment promoted over any other. Requests for treatment were initiated by a consumer completing a questionnaire, which was then reviewed by a prescriber. There was no guarantee that a request for a POM would be granted.

However, while the companies gave different defences for their activity, the ASA still concluded both were in the wrong, after consulting with the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Banning both ads, the watchdog concluded: “While we noted that (neither) ad specifically named any of the POMs that could treat ED, we considered that in the absence of any information stating that the promotion applied exclusively to non-POMs, the ad promoted POMs to the public and therefore breached the Code.”

Both firms were warned about their future advertising activity.

Related stories
ASA guns down foul-mouthed sexist rapper Bamby H20
Ling’s Cars crash with BLM parody ‘fetishing black men’
What a Whopper: Burger King vegan ads get the chop
Burger King is splattered over Farage milkshake-gate
Firm gets stiff rebuke for ‘cycling makes you a flop’ ad
BrewDog flayed yet again as green claim turns air blue
KFC gets a roasting for ‘What the Cluck?’ ad campaign
Explicit sex ad spanked for appearing on kids app

Print Friendly