Breast surgery ad criticised by ASAAdvertising watchdog raps Harley Medical Group

05 December 2007

Surgeon

An ‘irresponsible’ advert for breast surgery was today rapped by advertising watchdogs for promoting the cosmetic operation as easy.

The Harley Medical Group's posters made up of three panels on the London Underground showed a bikini-clad woman before and after her breast enlargements.

The third panel said: ‘Gorgeous breasts just got easy with cosmetic surgery...’

'Irresponsible'

Members of the public, including one doctor, complained that advertising surgery as ‘easy’ was irresponsible without warning that risks are attached.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found the posters in breach of advertising rules and said readers could conclude the procedure was easy, risk-free and did not require independent medical advice.

‘Because we understood that surgery always carried a risk to the patient, we concluded that, by promoting a surgical operation as 'easy', the approach was irresponsible and misleading,’ the watchdog said.

The ASA told The Harley Medical Group not to repeat the advert in its current form.

Harley Medical Group

In response to the investigation, The Harley Medical Group said the word 'easy' described the consultation process and their offer of flexible finance. All patients had at least three consultations prior to surgery, the group said. It denied the advert was misleading or irresponsible but agreed not to repeat the ‘easy’ claim in future.

Which? found Harley Medical Group, among others, breaking industry rules at an the Body Beautiful Show in Islington, London last month.

The major cosmetic surgery chain broke guidelines that state advertisements ‘must not offer discounts linked to a deadline date for booking appointments or surgery or other date-linked incentives.’

Discount

It advertised a £250 discount off surgical procedures and £50 off non-surgical procedures but only on treatments booked by 31 December 2007.

Which? health campaigner Frances Blunden says: ‘Whether it’s a surgical procedure like a boob-job or a non-invasive treatment like Botox injections, any cosmetic procedure carries risks.

‘Some of the ways we've found them being marketed are simply unacceptable and it is alarming that we uncovered so many examples at just one event – especially one that was attended by so many consumers.’

Which? is campaigning for a safe and responsible cosmetics treatment industry.