Health And Wellbeing Adverts That Went Too Far

Mar 17, 2022

When it comes to pharmacy digital marketing and the advertising of products that promote positive health and wellbeing benefits, it is vital to be clear and straightforward in your messaging to ensure that customers can make an informed opinion as to the right products for them.

This is why under Advertising Standards Agency Rules you cannot advertise prescription-only medicines, and the ASA has been proactive in banning adverts for prescription-only erectile dysfunction medication as well as Botox products.

However, even for non-prescription medicines and more general products that promote healthy living, there are limits to what you can claim, and here are some examples of adverts that went too far.


The ibuprofen painkiller brand has seen no end of claims made against them, but whilst many of these claims are justified as advertising puffery or do not have sufficient grounds to make a claim.

However, one exception to this set a major precedent and changed how painkillers were advertised in the UK. The advert for Nurofen Joint and Back was judged to have made a false claim that implied the product could specifically target joint and back pain, which it obviously did not.

The breach meant that the advert was banned, and by extension banned all painkillers from making claims that it produced a targeted effect.

Special K

Cereal manufacturers have become infamous for the number of claims they make, but Kellogg’s Special K advertisements stepped too far and were banned for describing themselves as “full of goodness” and nutritious, deemed as general health claims by the ASA.

Under ASA guidelines you cannot make general health claims without being backed up by a specific health benefit.


The famously irreverent brewery knew they were asking for trouble when they made an Instagram ad that poked fun at advertising regulations, and the ASA duly obliged them.

Advertising a low-calorie alcoholic hard seltzer drink, BrewDog noted that they could not claim the drink is healthy in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, before making several nutritional claims that were not allowed for alcoholic drinks.