Nurofen TV ad banned over misleading claims

A 'misleading' TV ad for Nurofen has been banned for wrongly implying the painkiller specifically targeted back and joint pain.

The advert showed a woman with back pain who subsequently took Nurofen Joint and Back painkillers.

As she took the product, an image showed it moving down her body and to her back.

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Then, the woman was shown going about her usual business without any pain, interspersed with anatomical images of her back with a Nurofen symbol indicating where the pain relief was acting.

The voice-over included the claim “Just a single dose of Nurofen Joint and Back provides you with constant targeted pain relief for up to eight hours”.

Eighteen people complained to watchdogs that the advert misleadingly implied that the product specifically targeted joint and back pain.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation.

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It banned the ad after finding it in breach rules regarding misleading advertising, substantiation of exaggeration.

RB UK Commercial LTd, the makers of the product, said that Nurofen Joint and Back contained liquid ibuprofen, meaning it was more soluble and readily absorbed that “standard” Nurofen.

Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which alleviates pain by inhibiting the production of the chemical messengers that produce pain messages at the site of injury.

Therefore, according to RB UK Commercial, the mode of action of Ibuprofen meant that by its very nature it targeted pain regardless of where it occurred in the body.

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The company added that the advert did not state or imply that the product specifically or only targeted back pain.

But the ASA noted that the ad featured a woman suffering from back pain which was relieved when she took Nurofen Joint and Back.

They considered that the Nurofen symbol appeared to move down her digestive tract and to the source of pain, where it remained, pulsing, as she went about her daily activities.

An ASA spokesman said: “We acknowledged that the concluding voice-over stated ‘provides you with constant targeted pain relief’.

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“But considered that, in the context of an ad focused on the alleviation of back pain, and given the product name, viewers were likely to understand that Nurofen Join and Back was specifically designed to relieve back and joint pain, rather than pain generally.”

The ASA ruled that the text stating that it could be used for other aches and pains was not sufficiently prominent.

The ASA spokesman added: “The ad must not appear again in its current form.

“We told RB UK Commercial Ltd to ensure they did not imply that Nurofen Joint and Back had a special mechanism which meant it specifically targeted back and joint pain if that was not the case.”