Although we disagree with the decision of the ASA we respect the role that they play in regulating TV advertising and therefore we will not appeal their decision.
We understand at MYA that cosmetic surgery is, to some, a controversial subject and certainly a misunderstood one. We believe that our services make a positive difference to peoples’ lives. We carry out a range of health and suitability checks and we do not operate on anyone under the age of 18. Of course, no surgery is without risk and we explain this in detail as well as giving cooling off periods for the patient to further reflect. If you read some of the stories as to why patients have cosmetic surgery, you will better understand the role it plays and the many years that it often takes to make a decision to proceed. Some of the stories are truly heart breaking and the surgery can be genuinely life-changing. Furthermore, we are seeing more and more patients coming to us with asymmetrical breasts, tubular breasts and for breast reductions. In the past, these women would have been treated by the NHS but are now finding that a much more difficult route. What is really interesting is that there are a number of procedures that we carry out with materially enhanced Quality Adjusted Life scores. Many make assumptions about cosmetic surgery with little or no experience or evidence.
In relation to our TV advert, and by way of background, this creative has been running for 15 months. It aired 36,542 times and had over 132.5 million views. Although we would rather not have any complaints, the proportion and number is small in this context, and the timing appears to have been linked to the attention from the TV show Love Island.
Clearcast, the organisation which pre-approves television advertising, said that there was nothing explicitly aspirational about the actions of the women in the ad other than they were having a good time on holiday. Clearcast said the ad avoided discussions of negative feelings towards women’s bodies and although the imagery was positive, the on-screen text alluded to the risks involved. In addition, the ASA previously considered a very similar ad for MYA in November 2017 and their view at the time was that it “did not consider that the ad implied this aspirational lifestyle was due to breast enhancement or made any direct claims about the positive impact of surgery or furthered a better time in social events as a result of the surgery.” The only difference between the two ads is the voiceover saying, “join them and thousands more by visiting mya.co.uk now”. At that time the ASA concluded that the ad did not breach the BCAP Code nor the CAP Code.
The timing of these complaints was in a different moment when there was a lot of debate around the advertising of a range of products and services in the adult content show, Love Island. This link to a BBC article highlights some of the opinions and context of when the complaints were made (Please see BBC – Should Love Island surgery ads be banned?).
When we received the complaint, we wrote to the ASA to clarify our position considering the significant deviation from their previous position. We always work hard to have advertising that is not only relevant to our thousands of happy patients but follows the various relevant codes. We thought that this advert achieved this balance and this position was supported by first Clearcast and then the ‘original’ ASA ruling. Clearly something has shifted in the eyes of the ASA and so we have decided not to appeal the ruling and we will take this opportunity to further engage with them and to reflect to ensure that we do get the right balance as it is not our intension to cause any upset or distress. We are also attempting to engage with one of the key mental health organisations involved in the complaint to seek their input and thoughts around our next campaign. We hope that they will meet with us soon.
A MYA Representative