Loose Arteries Redux


The complaint made by the British Humanist Association and others to the Advertising Standards Authority about the bizarre UCKG billboard selling magic oil has been upheld. I wish this means that the UCKG broke the law, apparently it’s only a civil offence so they can’t be put in the stocks for it. Pity. See judgement :

We considered that some readers were likely to infer from the ad as a whole that anointing oil had played some role in the sons recovery. Because UCKG had sent no evidence to support such an implication, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.


the ad could discourage people from seeking essential treatment by implying that the oil had a curative effect.


that was likely to be seen as an endorsement by CAP, which was a breach of CAP Code clause 14.6, and concluded that the ad breached the Code.”

Snake Oil sales pitch

(See the highly visible disclaimer, I have darkened the pale background to increase legibility. Click to enlarge)

The poster has long gone, so the judgement:

“Action The ad must not appear again in its current form.”

does not create a lot of nuisance to the UCKG, but this is a useful precedent.

I can feel a retirement hobby coming on.



6 Responses to “Loose Arteries Redux”

  1. Loose arteries « Pam Isherwood’s Weblog Says:

    […] Update, September – ASA upholds complaint. […]

  2. zeno Says:

    They didn’t break the law, just the ASA’s non-statutory and voluntary guidance. They were making claims they could not substantiate and the ASA rightly ruled it was misleading. However, all they get is a slap on the wrists and public humiliation! As you say, a useful precedent, although there have been other similar ones previously.

    Also, it was the British Humanist Association and two members of the public who complained (http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/361).

  3. Pam I Says:

    My mistake, I thought the ASA was there to police statute. If an advert is misleading and likely to exploit poeple, is that not against some law somewhere?

    Will amend National Secular Society to BHA. NSS people have been blogging about this elsewhere. My brain is full.

  4. zeno Says:

    It could well be that one of the public complaints was made by a NSS member.

    The history of the ASA is on their website somewhere and, as I understand it, they were set up voluntarily and financed through a levy of advertising companies, under the threat of statutory control if they didn’t self-police themselves!

    However, although they have no legal muscle, note is made of their adjudications and they will only accept robust scientific evidence for claims that are challenged. I’ve used this to good effect in many complaints against all sorts of misleading advertising on quackery. I have been blogging about these and there’s an interesting one coming up next week!

  5. Pam I Says:

    So if I were to take out an ad that says, give me a five pound note and I will turn it into a tenner by running it through my Magic Mangle TM, the ad itself would not be illegal, tho I could be busted for fraud (theft?), This doesn’t seem right….

  6. zeno Says:

    I would assume that the ASA would report anything that they thought was illegal. It may well be that such an advert in itself is not illegal (but would clearly breach the ASA CAP), but actually taking someone’s money in this scam would be illegal.

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