Consumers in SG find beauty-related ads most misleading

Beauty-related advertisements have been called out by consumers for being misleading. According to the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), the bulk of feedback it received were concerning beauty advertisements.

In a total of 218 feedback it has received, ASAS said 19 instances of feedback on advertisements were regarding the beauty industry (including advertisers of hair and slimming treatments) in 2018. Said to be the "most-complained about" sector, the concerns were about hair loss treatments, to which the complainants felt were misleading.

In addition, the advertisements also lacked the mandatory disclaimer of the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP), ASAS said. It added there was no scientific proof that any product (except certain registered medicinal products) or service can retard hair loss or promote hair growth. As such, ASAS followed up with the advertisers involved to ensure that their advertisements included the above disclaimer.

However, there were three instances of feedback involved promotions that the complainants said were not honoured due to terms and conditions that were referred to, but not written in the advertisement. While these promotions had ended when they were reported, ASAS advised the relevant businesses that future promotions should comply with the SCAP. Advertisers were reminded that promotional information must be truthful, and all pertinent terms and conditions must be clearly stated. ASAS added that if an advertisement does not include the terms and conditions, it should make it easy for the consumer to find them.

F&B next in the list

Closely behind the list of misleading ads comes the food and beverage sector. According to ASAS, the issues involved matters such as price and discount discrepancies in advertisements, or a lack of clarity in the description of food and beverage items on menus and in promotional materials. The feedback ASAS received was not limited to advertisements placed by restaurants and included advertisements through food delivery and restaurant reservation apps.

In one instance, a fast food establishment’s counter displayed a promotion with the statement “upsize your side and drink for SG$1.” The accompanying image featured orange juice and a side order, however consumers who ordered the upsize with orange juice were charged SG$2 instead. The F&B outlet was said to have changed the promotional image to use a soft drink to avoid future misunderstandings. ASAS added that advertisers should ensure the information on their promotional materials is clear, accurate and up-to-date, and this extends to prices and terms and conditions.

In addition, a complainant said that GST was charged on top of the restaurant’s listed prices when it was not indicated in the promotional materials. The establishment was said to have subsequently complied with ASAS’s advice to indicate the prices, terms and conditions for their promotions clearly and prominently.