Watchdog refuses to muzzle ‘busty’ plastic surgery ad

plastic surgeryCosmetic surgery firm Transform has been given the all-clear to “keep calm and carry on” running a TV ad for its breast enhancement service, which showed scenes of a young woman virtually bursting out of her bra, despite a raft of complaints that it exploited young women’s insecurities about their bodies.
The campaign, devised by agency Glorious Creative, featured scenes of a woman in her bedroom wearing a bathrobe and bra, with her cleavage exposed, the same woman going for a run in leggings and a sports bra, shopping with two female friends, putting on make-up while wearing a bathrobe with her cleavage exposed, and then on a night out with female friends, wearing a low-cut top which also showed her cleavage.
The voice-over stated: “Every day is a great day when you’re doing the things you like to do. Being with the people you love to be with. Living your life the way you want to live it. If you’ve decided on breast surgery you can have a free consultation, finance options and expert surgeons at Transform. Just go to transforminglives.co.uk.”
The text “No surgical procedure is entirely without risk. 18+ only” appeared in small font at the bottom of the screen towards the beginning of the ad, followed by the text “The decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be taken lightly. Before going ahead with a procedure, allow time for reflection.”
The ad was given Clearcast restrictions preventing it from being transmitted in or adjacent to TV programmes likely to appeal to audiences below the age of 18 years.
However, five viewers, who felt the ad exploited young women’s insecurities about their bodies, trivialised breast enhancement surgery and portrayed it as aspirational, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority and challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful.
In response, TFHC t/a Transform denied any such issues, insisting the ad portrayed a real-life patient in scenarios that she had cited as her own interests such as shopping, exercising and socialising. It argued that the ad did not imply that breast enhancement was trivial or attempt to exploit women’s insecurities, as it explicitly focused on the choice and wishes of individuals who have decided to have surgery, particularly in the line “Living your life the way you want to live it”.
TFHC also pointed out that the ad made no claims about the benefits of surgery or imply that surgery would solve personal or emotional problems.
In its ruling, the ASA agreed that the ad presented, in a positive light, the lifestyle of a woman who has had breast enhancement. And it did not not consider that the ad implied this aspirational lifestyle was due to breast enhancement or made any direct claims about the positive impact of surgery.
Rejecting the complaints, the watchdog added: “We did not consider that the surgical procedure had been trivialised or that viewers were being encouraged to make a decision about surgery quickly or lightly.
“We noted that the ad had been given a restriction by Clearcast preventing it from being seen during or adjacent to children’s programmes, or programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to audiences below the age of 18. We considered this restriction appropriate for the content of the ad.”
Not that the company has always been so successful in avoiding a run-in with the ASA. In July 2016, the firm was slapped down for an ad featuring a fashion blogger which suggested that, like her, young girls could gain popularity and feel more confident if they had a breast enlargement.

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