Itching to complain? ASA scratches out Vagisil gripe

vagisilAdvertising Standards Authority bosses certainly cannot say their job is boring; after all, they regularly get their hands dirty on ads featuring sex, drugs and alcohol. But this week has seen them probe a whole new zone, following a complaint against a TV ad for Vagisil creme that stated “there are over 60 reasons your intimate area could feel itchy”.
Quite what possessed the person to doubt the reliability of the “over 60 reasons” claim is not known, nevertheless the watchdog was still forced to launch an investigation and contacted Vagisil brand owner Combe Inc to demand an explanation.
In response, the firm stated that the central message of the ad was the product’s efficacy, rather than the fact that there were over 60 reasons for intimate itching.
It said that the consumer was unlikely to make her purchasing decision based on the number of causes of vaginal itching, therefore it did not believe that the claim was material to the ad or likely to materially mislead, and in any case it was able to substantiate the claim. It also stated that it would no longer be running the ad.
Clearcast stated that the ad was approved in 2013, based on an ad previously approved in 2011. Evidence had been submitted to their expert, who was content with the claims being made.
In ts ruling, the ASA noted that the ad stated “Did you know there are over 60 reasons your intimate area could feel itchy? Let’s do something about it”. It considered that viewers would understand this to mean that vaginal itching could be caused by over 60 different factors, and that Vagisil would help treat the symptom regardless of its cause.
The regulator noted that the document provided by Combe Inc actually listed 64 different causes of vaginal itching, including skin conditions, environmental factors, and irritation caused by the use of sanitary products. It considered that the claim had been substantiated and was not misleading.
Ruling that the ad did not breach the rules on either misleading advertising or substantiation, the ASA gave it a clear bill of health and ruled that no further action was required.

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