The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against a drinks brand after it made immunity claims about vitamin C.
Two issues were investigated, both of which were upheld, relating to Revival Drinks’ Revival Shots; one was a Facebook ad, and two were Instagram ads. The complaint related to the fact it implied that the product, or the vitamin C it contained, could cure Covid-19, were claims to prevent, treat or cure disease, which were prohibited by the Code; and that the product, or the vitamin C it contained, could boost immunity.
The ASA explained that the Facebook ad, posted on April 12, 2020, stated ‘Each stick of Revival contains … 500mg of vitamin C …’ and featured an image with text that stated ‘VITAMIN-C HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BOOST IMMUNITY BY MANY GLOBAL STUDIES … IT IS NOW BEING TESTED IN THE USA & CHINA AS A POSSIBLE CURE FOR COVID-19’.
The first Instagram ad on the same day was the same ad, while the second on, posted in April 2020, stated ‘Today we have officially past [sic] 500 independent verified reviews on Amazon … Here is one of the latest reviews from a customer in UK … #immunity #immunityboost #vitaminc … #staysafe”. The image featured a five-star review which stated “Great ! After developing symptoms of a sore throat & headache I got paranoid. I ordered this concentration of Vit C and took one stick. In about half an hour I felt instantly revived and my headache disappeared and sore throat was greatly reduced. Since taking I have had no symptoms. I highly recommend … 30 March 2020”.
The complaint for the first two ads were upheld, with the ASA advising that the CAP Code stated that claims which stated or implied a food could prevent, treat or cure human disease were prohibited for foods; this included food supplements and drinks.
In its ruling, it said: “Ads (a) and (b) stated that each Revival ‘stick’ contained 500 mg of vitamin C, and featured the claim that vitamin C was ‘… NOW BEING TESTED IN THE USA & CHINA AS A POSSIBLE CURE FOR COVID-19’. We considered the ad therefore implied that consuming Revival Shots could, through their vitamin C content, help to cure COVID-19.”
The ad with the customer review, the ASA said, was also upheld.
“Given that the ad was posted in mid-April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, referred to symptoms sometimes associated with COVID-19 and the reviewer’s ‘paranoia’ about those symptoms, and included the hashtag ‘#staysafe’, which was commonly associated with the pandemic, we considered consumers would understand that the claims in the review were intended to be understood to relate to COVID-19,” the ASA said.
“We considered the ad therefore implied that Revival Shots could help to cure COVID-19. We considered that even if the ad was not taken to relate specifically to curing COVID-19, it nonetheless claimed that Revival Shots had cured a headache and sore throat. Because COVID-19, headaches, and sore throats were medical conditions, we considered that ad (a) stated, and ad (b) implied, that Revival Shots could cure human disease. Such claims were prohibited for foods and the ads therefore breached the Code.”
It was also found that Revival Drinks made health claims related to vitamin C and immunity but had not provided any evidence to demonstrate that their products contained any vitamin in amounts sufficient that they could use any of those authorised health claims in advertising for their products.
The ASA added: “The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Revival Drinks Ltd t/a Revival Shots to ensure their ads did not state or imply that their food product could prevent, treat or cure human disease, including COVID-19. We also told them to ensure that any health claims made in their advertising were authorised on the Register, met the conditions of use for the authorised claims, and properly communicated the meaning of the authorised claim.”
Revival Drinks Ltd t/a Revival Shots said that the ads had been removed.