Cosmetic surgery advert branded 'irresponsible' for 'trivialising' procedure

The radio advert has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority

Sabrina Barr@fabsab5
Wednesday 03 April 2019 08:07
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Cosmetic surgery advert branded 'irresponsible' for 'trivialising' procedure

A radio advert promoting cosmetic surgery has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for "trivialising" the procedure.

In the advert, which was created by Glasgow-based cosmetic surgery company Cosmedicare, a voiceover reads an apologetic letter which a woman wrote to a bar owner.

In the letter, the woman apologises for her behaviour at the bar on the previous Saturday night, stating that she decided to perform a belly dance on top of the bar in celebration of her recent cosmetic surgery.

"To explain, I had to show off my new Cosmedicare body because as they say, 'If you've got it, flaunt it.' So I did a belly dance on your bar,' the voiceover says.

The advert continues, stating: "For your free cosmetic surgery consultation, 3D scan and price promise quote see Comedicare.co.uk," before ending with the tagline: "Cosmedicare - what will the new you do?"

Advertising watchdogs launched an investigation into the advert after receiving a complaint from a radio listener, who said the campaign "exploited young people's insecurities about their bodies".

A spokesperson for ASA explains the advert may lead listeners to believe they're only able to exude confidence and feel attractive after undergoing cosmetic surgery.

"We considered that was further emphasised by the voiceover at the end of the ad, which stated, 'What will the new you do?'" the spokesperson says.

They state the ASA "considered the ad went beyond presenting the actions of a woman who had cosmetic surgery in a positive light".

The spokesperson adds that the organisation felt "concerned" the advert may take advantage of "young people's insecurities about their bodies", in particular young women and teenage girls.

In light of the ban, Cosmedicare claims the advert was meant to present a "lighthearted, anecdotal scenario" of a woman who felt positive about her cosmetic surgery.

The company also adds the advert didn't specify what kind of surgery the woman underwent, and that no particular demographic of listener was targeted through the campaign.

A spokesperson for Radiocentre, the industry body for UK commercial radio, echoes this point of view, stating the advert was "not targeted or directed at under 18s".

While the ASA acknowledges the advert was meant to be lighthearted in nature, the spokesperson states the campaign insinuates that cosmetic surgery is something that "could be undertaken lightly".

The advertising watchdog therefore concluded that the advert is "irresponsible and harmful".

"In the context of an ad for cosmetic surgery, we considered the impulsive behaviour featured served to trivialise the seriousness of a decision to undergo any such procedure," the spokesperson adds.

"We otherwise noted the ad did not contain any suggestion that the decision should be carefully considered or that surgery would constitute a significant intervention."

The ASA has informed Cosmedicare UK Ltd the radio advert must not appear in the same form again.

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Cosmedicare says it did "not deliberately set out to cause any offence", and so the advert has been withdrawn.

"We're sorry that what was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek tone to our advert has caused someone offence," the company states.

In October 2018, the ASA ruled that adverts for cosmetic surgery aired during episodes of ITV's Love Island were "irresponsible" and "harmful".

The advertising watchdog received complaints from mental health groups, who argued the adverts "exploited young women's insecurities" and "trivialised" breast enhancement surgery.

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