ASA Ruling on Unwanted Enlargement Mailers: Life Healthcare

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a Life Healthcare direct mailing campaign for Maximus penis enlargement capsules following a complaint that it was offensive.

The ASA’s adjudication concerned a complaint by an individual who had previously asked the advertiser on a number of occasions not to contact them and challenged whether the marketer was in breach of the CAP Code by causing serious offence and making persistent and unwanted marketing communications.

The complainant contacted the advertising watchdog after receiving mailings from Life Healthcare which claimed they could “have a penis that’s inches longer and much thicker naturally, without surgery, pumps or exercise. Guaranteed or your money back!” The mailing asked “Is the size of your penis a disappointment to you and your partner? Sexually, do you feel so inadequate that the inability to satisfy your partner leaves you demoralised and depressed at how little you have to offer?” and made claims for the efficacy of Maximus penis enlargement capsules. The mailing continued in a similar vein over four pages.

The ASA was asked to rule on whether the ad complied with rule 4 (harm and offence) and rule 10 (database practice) of the Code. Rule 4 requires marketers to ensure that marketing communications do not contain anything that is likely to cause harm or widespread offence. Rule 10 requires marketers to implement database practices which are compliant with data protection legislation.

The complainant had not requested the mailing and the ASA noted that the personal nature of the marketing, combined with graphic and sexually explicit references, were likely to cause serious offence and breached rule 4.1 (harm and offence).

Life Healthcare’s database practice was also found to be in breach of the Code, the advertiser having sent out persistent and unwanted marketing communications in breach of rules 10.4 and 10.5 (database practice), despite repeated requests that the mailings be stopped.

The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear in its current form again and that the company must suppress the complainant’s personal data.

Bulletins are for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to specific matters. Where reference is made to Court decisions facts referred to are those reported as found by the Court. Please note that past bulletins included in the Archive have not been updated by any subsequent changes in statute or case law.