Do you want to look like Kylie Jenner? Unfortunately, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) thinks that is probably unrealistic, at least from using procedures recently advertised by Queen of Aesthetics and Faces by AKJ Aesthetics.
In two decisions released today, the ASA found that advertisements by these companies gave the misleading impression that Kylie Jenner’s aesthetic could be achieved through use of their cosmetic procedures. Misleading advertising breaches the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales and Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code), and as such the ASA ruled that these advertisements can no longer appear in the offending form.
In its Queen of Aesthetics ruling, the ASA considered an Instagram post by the salon which featured a picture of Kylie Jenner with the text: “Kylie Jenner Package. 1ml lips, 1 ml cheeks, 1 ml jawline”. It determined that this gave the misleading impression that its “package” could produce lips, cheeks and jawlines to resemble Ms Jenner’s. Unsurprisingly, it noted that there was no evidence that the products could achieve these specific ‘Kylie Jenner effects’. Consequently, the ASA found that the CAP Code had been breached, through misleading advertising and lack of substantiation, and banned the continued use of the ad.
The Faces by AKJ Aesthetics ruling concerned a similar advertisement. In that case, the company had published an Instagram post depicting Kylie Jenner with the text “Win the Kylie Package. 2ml contoured cheeks + 2ml jawline sculpting + 1ml high definition lips”. Instructions to ‘tag and share with friends’ were also posted, to set out how the “Kylie Package” could be won. The ‘hashtag’ “#Botox” was also included. The ASA considered that the advertisement gave a misleading impression, as with the Queen of Aesthetics content, and was similarly unsupported by evidence that resemblance to Kylie Jenner’s specific attributes could be attained through the procedure. As such, it found that the CAP Code had again been breached in respect of misleading advertising and a lack of substantiation.
In the latter case, however, the ASA was also concerned that the Faces by AKJ Aesthetics post had irresponsibly offered a cosmetic procedure as a competition prize. The ASA found that the use of a competition had given the impression that the decision to undergo cosmetic procedures could be taken lightly, without serious risks or issues. As such, it found that the competition aspect of the post was also in breach of the CAP Code, this time in regards to the requirement for responsible advertising.
Further, and perhaps most seriously, the ASA considered that the use of the ‘hashtag’ “#Botox” in the Faces by AKJ Aesthetics post could constitute the advertisement of a prescription-only medicine to the public, which is a criminal offence under the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (HMRs). ‘Botox’ is commonly understood to refer to Botulinum Toxin, which is a prescription only medicine in the UK. Under regulations 284 and 303 of the HMRs any person who publishes “an advertisement that is likely to lead to the use of a prescription only medicine” may be guilty of an offence. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for administering the HMRs (not the ASA), and there is no evidence that it took any action on this specific post. If it had, however, the potential penalties would have been far more severe than in the case of an ASA investigation. In any case, the ASA also found that the ‘hashtag’ “#Botox” breached the CAP Code in respect of rule 12.12 relating to medicines.
A third ruling, published on the same day as those concerning Kylie Jenner , related to an ad featuring Kylie’s half-sister, Kim Kardashian. Beauty Boutique Aesthetics used a photo of Kim within an Instagram post promoting Botox – the post featured the line, “When someone is listing the reasons they don’t need Botox & all you can think about is how many units they need…” As with Faces By AKJ Aesthetics, the ASA found that Beauty Boutique Aesthetics’ promotion of Botox, a prescription only medicine, breached the CAP Code under rule 12.12.
These rulings serve as a useful reminder to advertisers to be wary of the impression given by referencing a celebrity’s appearance as an outcome of the use of their products. Unless the referenced celebrity has actually used the advertiser’s treatments or there is strong evidence that the treatments can achieve their appearance, it’s crucial not to imply that those results will follow. The Faces by AKJ Aesthetics and Beauty Boutique Aesthetics rulings also reinforce the importance of setting prizes for competitions responsibly and avoiding any conduct which could constitute the promotion of a prescription only medicine, which can carry serious consequences.
Finally, it is noteworthy that all three investigations were instigated on the ASA’s own initiative, without a consumer or competitor raising a complaint about the relevant advertising. This should make unscrupulous promoters of Botox feel less confident that their conduct will escape the notice of the ASA, and perhaps even the MHRA.