My complaint about Sit and Slim is upheld. But what about that wraparound?
I have received lots of comments on my blog posts Lose weight by sitting down? and I have complained to the Advertising Standards Agency about Sit and Slim. Muriji promote the use of their chairs - at considerable expense - in five locations, one of which is in New Malden, and a number of local people feel they have been misled and ripped off by this company.
Today I feel entirely vindicated - which is definitely a good feeling.
Three other people (encouraged by my blog) also complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the adverts by Miruji for Sit and Slim chairs, and the ASA added in some further issues. Altogether they submitted seven different issues to the ASA Council, and the Council upheld all of them.
You can read the judgement here, but in essence it states:
1. The so-called trial at Hellesdon Hospital "did not show that Sit and Slim could result in weight reduction, improve self-esteem, increase confidence, reduce or eliminate aches and pains, facilitate the healing and prevention of injuries or improve sleep" so the claims "had not been substantiated and were misleading".
2. Phrases like 'NHS Hospital trial' were misleading because it "was not NHS-approved or formal research".
3. The claim that the chair was worth £10,000 was not substantiated.
4. The claim that the Sit and Slim chair could reduce blood pressure breached the rules about advertising health related products.
5. The ads also breached the rules about advertising treatments for obesity.
6. Miruji did not provide documentary evidence that one of the testimonials was genuine.
7. The ads "gave the impression that weight loss would be a direct and inevitable consequence of using the programme itself and that it was unlikely to be clear to readers that any weight reduction would have to come entirely from lifestyle changes that they would have to implement themselves."
The conclusion is very clear.
"The ads must not appear again in their current form."
Muruji are also advised to consult the ASA advice team before creating any more ads.
I was actually sent a copy of the judgment on Thursday 19th April, embargoed until today. The judgement became operative on the day before that and Miruji would have had sight of it earlier in the week.
So you can imagine my surprise at finding a four page advertorial for Sit and Slim wrapped around the Kingston Guardian dated 19th April. The ad repeated all the claims that were trashed by the ASA. The company must have known that the judgement was imminent and decided to have one last go.
I phoned ASA about the wraparound, and they talked about the lead time for preparing and placing an ad in the local press, so could not criticise them. Of course, they will take action if any new ads appear in the future.
However, the company's website still makes many of the claims that have been criticised by the ASA. (I won't do them a favour by providing a link to the website from my blog, but you know how to Google)
I've also passed all my information on to the Surrey Comet/Kingston Guardian, so I hope they will cover the story soon.