Brands & Merch

Bieber’s spot cream endorsement misleading, says ASA

By | Published on Wednesday 18 July 2012

Justin Bieber

An all-star TV ad campaign for spot cream Proactive has been banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog because it implied the celebrities featured – including the likes of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber – were current users of the medication, when in fact some had used it several years earlier.

The Advertising Standards Authority first started investigating the British ad – which was linked to a US and online marketing campaign in which Bieber asks “want to know why my fans talk about my hair and not my zits, because I don’t get zits” – when a complainer pointed out that Proactive is made of different ingredients in the UK than the US. So, the complainer claimed, American celebs endorsing the product hadn’t actually used the cream UK consumers could buy.

But not so, said Proactiv, the US stars flogging its product in the UK had all used the British version of the cream at some point, and it had letters from each of them stating so. The ASA conceded this was indeed the case, but noted that the celebs in question had each made use of the spot busting product for short periods between 2008 and 2010. But the 2011 ads, the ASA reckoned, implied continued use of the product by all the celebrity endorsers.

Said the regulator: “We considered the overall impression of the ads was that the celebrities were continued and regular users of Proactiv and noted the same endorsement claims were included on the US Proactiv website”.

It continued: “We noted the signed statements, [but] the celebrities had each used the UK formulation of the product for a period of only several weeks, between one and three years before the ads appeared. We noted the ads were targeted at a UK audience and that the UK Proactiv products had a different active ingredient to the US version. In that context, we therefore considered the claims of continued use had not been substantiated. We concluded that the ads were misleading”.