Meeting 9 September 2003
Complainant: S. Cottier - Nutralife Health & Fitness
Advertisement: Erdic New Zealand - Breast Support Programme
Complaint: The Erdic advertisement published on the back cover of the TV Guide showed
an attractive young woman clad in the lower part of a bikini. The headlines said:
"Revolutionary Breakthrough for Women - Beautiful, firm, full breasts with Erdic breast
support programme" and the subtext read: "For years women of all ages have suffered the
embarrassment of breasts that have lost tone and condition through breast feeding or ageing,
which may lead to low self esteem. Introducing ERDIC, a natural plant based food
supplement uniquely developed to help support full, firm, beautiful breasts…."
The Erdic website advertisement at www.erdic.co.nz/frequentquestions.html was also
included in the complaint.
The Complainant, S. Cottier, said: "If you haven’t seen it, I thought you would be
interested in the attached advertisement that appeared on the rear cover page of the TV Guide
for the week of August 2 to 8, 2003.
I have checked on the Erdic New Zealand website, and was surprised to learn that the product
formulation (requiring the user to take 10 tablets daily) consists of extracts and fibres of Rye,
Malt, Fennel, Barley, Buckwheat, Hops (3 types) and l-Ornithine (a common acid).
Tn Calcium Phosphate (Calcium) and Silicon dioxide 100% Natural.
The cost is $690.00 for 2 month’s supply although they do have special payment plans and a
‘special 6 months’ introductory offer for $1500!’
From my experience in the fields of pharmacy, medicine and nutrition over the last 45 years
or so, I believe that this advertisement raises false expectations, because there is nothing in
the formula that I can see (even allowing for ‘ornithine’ which is an amino acid) that would
produce (or could produce) the results claimed.
Also the advertisement and website and the product appears to contravene the Medicines Act
inasmuch as it claims Erdic will increase breast size, which is specifically addressed in the
Act in Clause 4 (e) which defines ‘therapeutic purpose’ in part as;
“Altering the shape, structure, size of weight of the human body;”
Also Clause 58 Further Restrictions on Advertisements - states that no person shall publish or
cause or permit to be published, any medical advertisement that -
(a) Directly or by implication claims, indicates or suggests that medicines of the description,
or medical devices of the kind, or the method of treatment advertised will prevent, alleviate,
or cure any disease, or prevent, reduce or terminate any physiological condition specified, or
belonging to a class of disease or physiological condition specified in Part I of the First
Schedule to this Act;
The First Schedule includes; Bust, underdevelopment of.
On the basis of this I believe the advertisement is in breach of the Medicines Act and if it is
claimed the product is a Dietary Supplement, it also breaches that legislation as well.
It is also of some concern that the Publisher of the TVGuide did not seek to obtain a TAPS
ruling for this advertisement, and may also be unaware of their responsibilities under the
Medicines Act., briefly that “no person shall publish or cause or permit to be published, any
medical advertisement that - etc etc”
Frankly, we have seen a considerable number of advertisements recently for products that
contravene the Medicines Act or Dietary Supplements Regulations, and it is only by bringing,
these matters to the attention of the initiators of these advertisements and (if necessary) the
authorities, that we can avoid the imposition of even more stringent controls on our ability to
make consumers aware of our products.
I have sent a copy of this letter and the advertisement to Donna Jennings, Compliance officer
at Medsafe and also to Nigel Andrews.
The Commerce Commission may also be interested."
The Chairman ruled that the following provisions were relevant:
Code for Therapeutic Advertising
Principle 1 - Advertisements should comply with the laws of New Zealand and the
appropriate industry Code of Ethics.
Guideline 1(a) All advertisers are expected to abide by the rules of the appropriate industry
Code of Ethics in addition to this Code. Particular attention is drawn to the advertising
provisions in the Medicines Act 1981 and the Medicines Regulations 1984.
Principle 2 - Advertisements should observe a high standard of social responsibility
particularly as consumers rely on therapeutic products and services for their health and
Principle 3 - Advertisements should not by implication, omission, ambiguity or
exaggerated claim mislead or deceive or be likely to mislead or deceive consumers,
abuse the trust of or exploit the lack of knowledge of consumers, exploit the
superstitious or without justifiable reason play on fear.
3(a) Therapeutic claims should be factual and able to be proved.
3(b) Advertisements should not have depictions which unduly glamorise the product or
portray unrealistic outcomes.
The Agency, Conquest Strategic Advertising Limited, said:
"The advertisement in question was a one off, preliminary advertisement that was sent to the
TV Guide magazine whilst final TAPS authorisation was being obtained for the general
campaign. This TAPS authorisation was granted and all subsequent advertising now runs
with the authorisation code TAPS PP643. I attach a proof of the current, TAPS approved
advertising. The only difference between the advertisement in question, and the TAPS
approved advertising, is the heading is now a sub-head under a new heading: ‘Make this the
breast summer ever’.
As a result of discussions with Peter Pratt of Taps, we checked and altered as necessary: the
advertising, the mail-out promotional material, the website information, and the packaging
design. We obtained approval once these items were altered to Peter’s satisfaction. We
believe that all of the promotional material conforms to the relevant advertising standards and
codes, which we are familiar with.
It is our intention that the advertising focuses on firmness, not size.
It is also the view of this agency that the product works, and is an excellent product for
I hope the above clarifies any concerns the board might have over this advertisement and the
ongoing promotion of Erdic in New Zealand. If you have any other concerns please feel free
to contact me as necessary.
The media, Fairfax Magazines, said:
"I am in receipt of your letter out lining a complaint from Shailer Cottier (Nutra-Life).
Please note that the TV Guide confirmed that the advertisement in question was TAPS
approved before accepting the booking. I do understand however, that the TAPS number
itself was missed off the original artwork for the first insertion- this has since been rectified.
We feel that in confirming that the advertisement was TAPS approved, the TV Guide made
every effort to ensure the advertisement was suitable to be published.
Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss further."
The Complaints Board perused the relevant correspondence and the Erdic New Zealand
Breast Support print advertisement. It noted that the Complainant was of the view that the
advertisement was in breach of the Medicines Act, as it raised false expectations.
The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint with reference to the
Code for Therapeutic Advertising, Principle 1, Guideline 1(a), Principles 2 and Principle 3,
Guidelines 3(a) and (b).
The Complaints Board, in turning to the advertisement, submitted by the complainant, which
had not received TAPs approval, was of the view that it contained a depiction which unduly
glamourised the product, and made the therapeutic claim, "help support full, firm, beautiful
breasts", which was unable to be substantiated, thereby rendering the advertisement
misleading and in breach of the Code for Therapeutic Advertising, Principle 3, Guidelines
3(a) and (b).
Furthermore, the Complaints Board ruled that the advertisement was in breach of the Code
for Therapeutic Advertising, Principle 1, Guideline 1(a) as it did not comply with the
requirements of the Medicines Act
However, the Complaints Board noted and commended the advertiser on the revised Erdic
advertisement which had received TAPS approval.
The Complaints Board then turned its attention to Erdic website advertisement at
www.erdic.co.nz/frequentquestions.html and noted in particular the questions: "Is Erdic
Safe? and "Is Erdic proven?" In its view these did not meet the high standard of social
responsibility required by Principle 2 of the Code for Therapeutic Advertising, thereby
rendering the advertisement in breach.
The Complaints Board also noted "180 day money back guarantee " which only applied to
"unused boxes" returned "if you are not happy with the results you have achieved after you
have tried the product for a reasonable amount of time (6months (3 boxes)) …" and
commented that this did not appear to be a socially responsible guarantee as it only applied
to unopened boxes of the product. Furthermore it noted the disclaimers contained in the
website advertisement, and commented that disclaimers were not appropriate in
advertisements which made therapeutic claims. The Complaints Board ruled that the website
advertisement was also in breach of Principle 1, Guideline 1(a) and Principle 3, Guidelines
3(a) and (b).
The Complaints Board strongly recommended that the website advertisement be submitted
for TAPS approval.
The Complaints Board ruled to uphold the complaint.
Decision: Complaint Upheld