Equal Education has lodged a complaint against an advertisement that is running on several radio stations. On 10 August 2011 at approximately 15h45 on Highveld Stereo, an advertisement placed by Patrick Holford claimed that a product called ‘Smart Kids Brain Boost’ would assist children to be at the top of their class. The advert also ran on KFM shortly before 8:30am on 11 August.
The complaint is made on behalf of Equal Education, a movement of learners, parents, teachers and community members working for quality and equality in South African education, through analysis and activism.
According to Mr Holford's website, Smart Kids Brain Boost is a micronutrient supplement containing phospholipids, amino acids and vitamin B. (See http://holforddirect.co.za/
The claim that this supplement will improve the school performance of children is unsubstantiated and misleading. In our view it is in violation of clauses 4.1 and 4.2 of the ASASA advertising code (http://www.asasa.org.za/
It is furthermore, in our view, in violation of clauses 14.2.1 and 14.2.2 of the ASASA advertising code which state:
14.2.1 … Advertisements should not exploit the natural credulity of children or their lack of experience and should not strain their sense of loyalty.
14.2.2 Instances where the above principle may apply are, inter alia, the following:
- for a commercial product or service which contains any appeal to children which suggests in any way that unless the children themselves buy or encourage other people to buy the product or service, they will be failing in some duty or lacking in loyalty toward some person or organisation, whether that person or organisation is the one making the appeal or not;
- which leads children to believe that if they do not own the product advertised they will be inferior in some way to other children or that they are liable to be held in contempt or ridicule for not owning it; …
It is wrong for Mr Holford to make unsubstantiated claims that take advantage of the desire young people have to succeed in school. Succeeding in school requires adequate resources, good teachers, and hard work. There is unfortunately no short-cut based on Mr Holford’s products.