A Nurofen ad has been banned for implying it could specifically target joint and back pain. So are we seeing the start of a change in the way companies can market their painkillers?
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of Nurofen, that it must stop showing a TV advert that misleads people into thinking that Nurofen Joint and Back could target pain in a specific part of the body.
In fact, the ASA ruling stated that the ad breached three rules (3.1, 3.9 and 3.12), meaning that not only was it misleading but its claims were unsubstantiated and exaggerated. The banned advert showed an anatomical image of a woman with the Nurofen moving down her body to her back, while a voiceover said: ‘Just a single dose of Nurofen Joint and Back provides you with constant targeted pain relief for up to eight hours’.
But this wouldn’t be the first time painkiller marketing claims have been brought into question…
Nurofen targeted pain relief
Back in December we reported on Nurofen’s ‘targeted’ pills as part of our research into this market.
We highlighted that the products Nurofen Migraine and Tension Headache are exactly the same as each other and – available until recently – Nurofen Express caplets (342mg of fast-acting ibuprofen lysine, which is equivalent to 200mg ordinary ibuprofen), yet are marketed differently.
Last year, the Australian Federal Court ordered the manufacturers of best-selling painkiller brand Nurofen to remove its targeted range of painkillers from Australian shops and face a potentially heavy fine for misleading consumers.
We think this is about more than just marketing. One pain expert said:
‘It’s a waste of money to buy so-called targeted painkillers, and potentially dangerous as you might be misled into taking a double dose for two main pain types [thinking they’re different medicines].’
Nurofen defended the sale of targeted painkillers, saying that they can help consumers choose the right one, just as it has defended the marketing of its Joint and Back saying it showed it could provide backache relief rather than implying this was all it could do.
But it’s also surely about the way we spend our money. Nurofen Joint and Back is actually licensed for a range of pain, including rheumatic or muscular pain, backache, neuralgia, migraine, headache, dental pain, period pain, feverishness, symptoms of colds and influenza.
Considering that extensive list, do you really need a plethora of painkillers in your cupboard all making different marketing claims? Do you feel mislead by these marketing claims, or do you consider yourself savvy enough to see through them?