Asda has run into fresh trouble with TV watchdogs just a week after
being forced to pull a commercial for cut-price medicines because it
featured the former newsreader, Jan Leeming.
Now the supermarket chain has been told by the Independent Television
Commission that it must amend the replacement ad as well, or that too
will not run again.
Both ads, produced by Publicis, provoked complaints from the Royal
Pharmaceutical Society, which claimed the first was in breach of ITC
rules prohibiting celebrity endorsement of pharmaceutical products and
that the second was illegal.
The ITC, which initially said it had ‘no problem’ with the amended ad,
announced later that Asda had committed a ‘technical breach’ of its
regulations. The ad fails to include an instruction to consumers to read
the information contained within the package or on the label.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which represents 36,000 UK
pharmacists, claimed this week that the second ad was not only in breach
of the ITC codes, but also the 1968 Medicines Act by failing to include
the ‘always read the label’ advice.
The society is angered by what it claims has been a flouting of
advertising regulations by Asda and its failure to recognise the
importance to consumers of clear information about medicines.
‘You can’t sell medicines like washing powder or sweets,’ Beverley
Parkin, a society executive, said. ‘We believe the ‘pile-it-high-sell-
it-cheap’ mentality is against consumers’ interests.’
Mark Robinson, the Publicis business development director, maintained
that the amended ad did not need to carry an instruction to read the
label because no claims were being made about the products advertised.
But the ITC said that some confusion had arisen because of European
legislation, and that its own code was clear.
Asda said this week that the amended ad was intended only to coincide
with the launch of its new range of medicinal products and there were no
plans to run it again. ‘If we do, we will ensure the commercial is
within the ITC code,’ a senior executive said.