Coronavirus: 'Apprentice' U.K. Contestant's Revival Shots Ads Deemed "Misleading"

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Britain's Advertising Standards Authority says product ads on Facebook and Instagram implied it "could help to cure COVID-19."

Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has banned three social media ads from the company of a former Apprentice U.K. contestant, saying they made "misleading" coronavirus claims.

Revival Shots, founded by Daniel Elahi, suggested in the Facebook and Instagram ads that its rehydration sachets could boost immunity and help cure COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The ASA's ruling highlighted that a Facebook and an Instagram ad posted in April mentioned that the product contains vitamin C, with added text that said vitamin C boosts immunity and was "now being tested in the USA and China as a possible cure for COVID-19."

The ASA concluded: "We considered the ad therefore implied that consuming Revival Shots could, through their vitamin C content, help to cure COVID-19."

A second Instagram post mentioned that the firm had reached "500 independent verified reviews on Amazon" and shared one five-star review from a customer in image form following a group of hashtags: "#immunity #immunityboost #vitaminc … #staysafe." "After developing symptoms of a sore throat & headache I got paranoid," the following review said among other things. "In about half an hour I felt instantly revived and my headache disappeared and sore throat was greatly reduced. Since taking I have had no symptoms."

The ASA in its review said: "Given that the ad was posted in mid-April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, referred to symptoms sometimes associated with COVID-19 and the reviewer's 'paranoia’ about those symptoms, and included the hashtag '#staysafe' which was commonly associated with the pandemic, we considered consumers would understand that the claims in the review were intended to be understood to relate to COVID-19. We considered the ad therefore implied that Revival Shots could help to cure COVID-19."

The ASA also found the company could not support claims that its product's vitamin C content could improve users' immunity, ruling: "Revival Shots had not provided any evidence to demonstrate that their products contained any vitamin in amounts sufficient that they could use any of those authorized health claims in advertising for their products."

Concluded the ASA: "The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told … Revival Shots to ensure their ads did not state or imply that their food product could prevent, treat or cure human disease, including COVID-19."