In August 2011 Equal Education lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) against a radio advertisement promoting Smart Kids Brain Boost [PDF].
The advertisement placed by Patrick Holford claimed that the supplement would assist children to be at the top of their class. Mr Holford’s website advertised Smart Kids Brain Boost as a micronutrient supplement containing phospholipids, amino acids and vitamin B.
At the time the product sold for R149.95 on Mr Holford’s website.
In its complaint Equal Education argued that Mr Holford’s claim that this supplement would improve the school performance of children was unsubstantiated and misleading. In this regard the advertisement was in violation of clauses 4.1 and 4.2 of the ASASA advertising code.
The claim also violated 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; …
On 10 May 2012 the ASASA ruled in favour of Equal Education’s complaint. It ordered Mr Holford to withdraw the claim that the product would result in improved mental or scholastic performance. Furthermore, Mr Holford was ordered to stop using the product name, Smart Kids Brain Boost.
It was 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.
There is no magic pill for success at school, Cape Times, 31 August 2011
ASA upholds Equal Education complaint against Patrick Holford, Quackdown!, 14 May 2012
Education complaint upheld, The Sowetan, 17 May 2012