Adverts for injectable cosmetic treatments are an uncertain area, but advertising Botox® through group buying sites is a no-no. That’s why we contacted new site Wowcher and got them to remove an offending deal…
The deal offered ‘Botox® injections’ direct to the public, which would take place at a clinic in London – this is illegal as Botox® is a prescription-only medicine. There was also an ad in the Metro newspaper and the deal was on Wowcher’s Twitter feed.
But how can it be illegal when there are endless Botox® ads on group buying sites? Well, look closely and you’ll see that none of the ads actually mention Botox® – instead the treatment might be described as a “filler” or “cosmetic treatment”, which is legally allowed.
Ads need closer scrutiny
Treatments You Can Trust (TYCT), an organisation which is trying to drive up the standards of how such treatments are promoted to the public, brought this latest example to our attention. Sally Taber of TYCT, wrote a guest Conversation on this very topic recently, and explained why these ads need closer scrutiny:
‘With demand for treatments like these increasing, we’re concerned that buying treatments from group buying sites is putting people at risk, and we believe that many advertised deals are misleading or offering sub-standard aftercare.’
I’m not a regular visitor to group buying sites, so it was a new experience for me to see such a deal listed alongside Indian meals out, helicopter flights and supercar driving experiences. A good or bad curry is one thing; a good or bad medical procedure quite another.
Wowcher backs down
A spokesperson for AND Media, which owns Wowcher (and also Metro and the Daily Mail, among other titles), told us that the deal had been withdrawn ‘following an error in the way the deal was promoted’:
‘All Wowcher deals are subject to a thorough investigation before being offered on the site. Wowcher takes quality assurance processes, merchant selection and transparency in its deals for consumers very seriously.’
The 41 people who bought the deal on the Wowcher site will be contacted to check they are happy to go ahead, and the clinic confirmed there would be a consultation beforehand.
If you see advertising for Botox® or other such treatments, you can complain via the MHRA website or to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Of the 300 complaints about such advertising the MHRA got in 2010, more than 200 of the ads were changed, so it’s worth speaking out.
The pressure to buy on a group buying site is clearly much greater: ‘buy now’ say the buttons; tick tock goes the countdown; ‘50%’ says the savings box. Should such marketing even be on these sites?