It is a question many a balding man may have asked in his struggle between vanity, vanishing hair and healthy scepticism: the treatments in those ads, showing transformations from thinning to luxuriant mane – do they really work?
A partial, but rather dispiriting answer will be provided by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In the case of one TV advert, the watchdog has ruled: don’t get your hopes up too high.
The ASA will today order Ziering Medical UK to withdraw one of its TV ads on the grounds that it was misleading. Ziering, the watchdog ruled, had failed to provide enough evidence to show that the wonderful results seen on TV were what customers could generally expect in real life.
Ziering Medical UK is an offshoot of an empire founded by Dr Craig Ziering, the Beverly Hills surgeon described by Los Angeles customers as “the king of eyebrow restoration”. Providing procedures for about 50 British customers a month at centres in Birmingham and London, the company offers “follicular unit transplantation” at prices starting from £3,250.
On the company’s website was the ad that fell foul of the ASA. It showed over(balding)head shots of three men. “When I started losing my hair,” went the voiceover, “I started losing my confidence. I searched everywhere, but just couldn’t find an answer. Then a friend told me about hair transplant surgery from Ziering …”
The scene switched to overhead shots of three other men in very similar locations, with similar clothes and hair colouring to the first trio – but full thatches. “I started to see results in just four months,” the commentary said.
In April a Channel 5 viewer complained. In its submission to the ASA, Ziering said it did not consider the ad misleading, arguing that it represented a visual representation of the results of hair transplant surgery, with a voiceover based on real patient experience.
The watchdog, however, ruled against Ziering. It acknowledged the ad avoided giving the impression that any statements were from actual customer testimonials or that onscreen images were real “before” and “after” shots.
The problem, the ASA said, was that “the advertiser needed to provide robust evidence to demonstrate patients generally obtained results akin to those shown in the ad.
“We concluded that the ad was misleading, because the advertiser had not provided evidence to demonstrate that the results shown were representative of those generally achieved by their patients.”
The ruling also noted that two characters in the “after” shots “appeared to have thicker hair over their whole heads. This could not be achieved by hair transplantation because [it] redistributed hair follicles and did not create them or affect the thickness of the hair strands.”Reuse content