An outdoor ad, which promoted a cure for erectile dysfunction by suggesting cycling makes blokes a flop in the bedroom, has been bashed out by the ad watchdog due to a lack of rock hard evidence.
The ad for Numan.com, a website providing treatment for men’s health issues, ran on a bus-side with a strapline that posed the question: “Does cycling affect you in the bedroom?”; smaller text underneath stated “#bookoferections”.
One complainant challenged whether the implied claim that cycling could have a negative effect on erectile performance was misleading and could be substantiated, sparking an Advertising Standards Authority investigation.
In response to the ASA inquiry, the firm behind the Numan website – Vir Health – said the claim was backed up by scientific research, and cited “several studies” which suggested a causal link between cycling more than three hours a day and poor bedroom performance.
While it admitted that further research was required, the firm pointed too the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (Nice), which had added advice to stop or cut back on cycling to its guidelines on treating erectile dysfunction.
Vir Health claimed that this advice was being taken by a large proportion of UK-based doctors and provided a link to a scientific study.
In its ruling, the ASA considered consumers would understand the strapline to mean cycling had a negative impact on erectile performance. Therefore, men who saw the ad were likely to understand cycling could lead to them developing “stiffy” problems, or could be the cause of an existing issue.
The watchdog then took a closer look at the “evidence” which Vir Health had submitted. One study actually found that cycling less than three hours a week was not associated with erectile dysfunction at all, and may be a protective factor against it.
At the same time, it found a higher prevalence of erectile dysfunction among men who cycled three or more hours a week – not a day as Vir Health had claimed – compared to moderate cyclists and non-cyclists. However, the authors acknowledged that the population was not of sufficient statistical power to establish a causal link. Furthermore, health conditions were based on self-reporting rather than clinical diagnosis or reference to medical records.
Meanwhile, the Nice Clinical Knowledge Summary on erectile dysfunction – cited by Vir Health – also listed long-distance cycling as a possible risk factor. It advised that men who cycled for more than three hours a week should be encouraged to trial a period without cycling to see if it improved their bedroom problem, or take preventative measures such ensuring their bike seat was fitted properly.
However, the guidance acknowledged that more research was needed to confirm whether cycling was a risk factor for “bedroom issues”, and referred to a systematic review which reported that no sufficient evidence existed to either attribute or refute a causal relationship between cycling and problems “getting it up”.
In conclusion, the ASA said it had not seen sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim that cycling caused a “droop” and concluded that the ad was misleading.
Banning the ad from running again in the same form, the watchdog also warned Vir Health not to repeat the claim that cycling had a negative effect on erectile performance, unless the firm held sufficient evidence to substantiate it.
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