It took just 17 complaints for a plastic surgery advert to be banned for being ‘socially irresponsible’, an Advertising Standards Agency spokesperson said.
Craig Jones, Director of Communications at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), told Eamonn Holmes on talkRADIO that the advert for plastic surgery group MYA, which showed a group of women dancing and laughing around a pool and was aired during the on-demand version of Love Island, was “socially irresponsible in the tone and the content for two reasons”.
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“The first was the statement that all the girls feel amazing because they’ve had breast implants,” said Jones. “They were dancing on the beach and happy with their bodies, the clear implication was it was because they’d all had breast enhancements.
“The second reason we banned it was the statement at the end of the ad that said ‘join them and thousands more’ - we thought that was a call to action and it trivialised what should be a big decision.”
He said you “can’t trivialise” certain products like plastic surgery, gambling and certain foods with high sugar or fat content.
“MYA had a few warnings on the ad, and a few responsible caveats they put into it, but overall that wasn’t enough,” Jones continued. “We felt the overall impression of the ad was socially irresponsible.”
'Damaging to mental health'
Holmes asked whether Love Island itself promoted similar imagery.
“Shouldn’t you be having a word with Ofcom and ITV about how they portray Love Island?” he asked.
“Most people have had some kind of enhancement on that show, and I’m including the men in this.
“Same eyebrows, same fillers, same enhanced breasts… ITV are putting out a certain look that youngsters all copy.”
“This is a concern we share over this ‘perfectly curated life’ you see on Instagram and some programmes,” Jones replied.
“We’ve had people talking to us, like the Children’s Commissioner and NHS people, [saying] that this could be quite damaging for people’s mental health.”
He added that as the ASA only deals with adverts, the organisation could not offer an official view on television content.
'One complaint can lead to a ban'
According to MYA managing director Simon McMillan, the ad had been on air for 15 months and viewed 132 million times.
Jones revealed that 17 people had complained, but said investigating and banning an ad was not a “numbers game”.
“Why do you care what 17 people think?” asked Holmes.
“One complaint can leads to an ad being banned - if there’s been a breach of the rules we will take action,” Jones responded.
Watch: MYA director says they won't be appealing the ban
MYA would not be appealing, McMillan said.
“Although we are disappointed and disagree with the decision, we have decided not to appeal it,” he said.
“We are listening to a range of opinion around this.
“There’s no doubt that around the time of Love Island it really focused an eclectic mix of people’s minds and opinions, it has brought about a healthy debate.
“It’s something we’re reflecting and looking at. We’re now engaged with mental health charities, we want to engage further with the ASA.”