ASAS questions Vitagen ad claims

Yet another brand has come under the scrutiny of the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) , with the regulatory body placing Vitagen's ads on hold for ‘objectionable' claims in its ad copy.

ASAS objected to Malaysia Dairy Industries' (which owns Vitagen) claims: "Vitagen Less Sugar has 50% less sugar than regular cultured milk drinks" and "Regular Cultured Milk has even more sugar than soft drinks", which ran in its campaigns last year.

It has since "advised the advertiser to amend the advertisement for further review," said ASAS chairman Tan Sze Wee, without giving out any further details.

However, Malaysia Dairy Industries has retaliated, contesting ASAS' stand in a letter from its legal counsel. In the letter, as seen by Marketing, the company said it was "perplexed" as to why its ads were not approved when other similar claims in ads had been made, such as Zespri kiwi fruit claiming to have twice the vitamin C found in oranges in its ad copy.

The letter also pleaded with regulatory body to be reasonable as the "design, procurement and implementation" of campaigns were expensive and "time-sensitive".

A spokesperson from its marketing team told Marketing it was asked to validate its "50% less sugar than regular cultured milk drinks" claim.

"We showed them we could substantiate the claim, according to our scientific reports. The next thing they came back with was that "Regular Cultured Milk" is not an approved category in Singapore", though this was used by the Health Promotion Board and AC Nielsen."

According to the spokesperson, there has been a lot of back and forth and media owners are waiting on the client to give the verdict. She added this year's upcoming campaign was still remain on hold until after the ASAS' verdict.

"The thing I don't understand is, one and a half years ago the ASAS actually approved this claim. This is inconsistent," she added.

The campaign last year ran on radio, leaflets and print platforms.