Actimel no longer “scientifically proven”

The advertising watchdog has ruled that a television campaign for Danone’s Actimel is misleading because it claims the product is “scientifically proven to help support your kids’ defences”.

The advertisement shows a bottle of Actimel jumping over a skipping rope while a voiceover makes the claim. The final image shows the text “scientifically proven” being stamped on the screen.

In the ad’s defence, Danone UK said that the health benefits of Actimel had been demonstrated in 23 human studies conducted over 6,000 people across various age ranges. Of those studies, eight had been carried out on children under the age of 16.

The company explained that the health benefit of the product was its support of the human body’s natural defence system and that it had been referring to the product as “scientifically proven” in its ads since November 2007. The basis for the claim was a “significant body” of published scientific evidence.

The Advertising Standards Authority acknowledged the scientific evidence but thought it was necessary to consider each individual study for accuracy and relevance in order to be able to assess the merits of the body of work as a whole

It did look at several of the reports and concluded that they demonstrated some children would not see a benefit from consuming Actimel.

The ASA decided that the ad does “make an absolute claim” that Actimel will support the defences of children and the reference to “your kids” suggests to customers that it will benefit their child. Therefore it has ruled the ad misleading and not to be run again in its current form.

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