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Boots and Unilever rapped by UK advertising watchdog

Gaelle Walker
19 January 2021

A paid-for Facebook post by Boots, advertising Unilever's Baby Dove wash and lotion has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after it was judged to have breached advertising codes for misleading advertising and substantiation.

The advert featured text that stated: "Every baby is born with a unique microbiome, a living layer that protects its skin, nourish it with Baby Dove wash and lotion. Available at Boots".

The post also included a video with voice-over that stated “Every baby is born with a unique microbiome. Nourish it with Baby Dove prebiotic moisturiser”.

An image of parents with a newborn baby appeared with the on-screen text “Every baby is born with a unique microbiome”. This was followed by an image of the products accompanied by on-screen text that stated “Baby Dove gently nourishes with prebiotic moisturiser”.

Further text stated “with prebiotic moisturiser” and “with 100% skin natural nutrients”.

A complaint that challenged whether the claim that Baby Dove wash and lotion could "nourish" a baby's skin microbiome was misleading and could be substantiated, was upheld by the ASA following an investigation.

The advert made “breakthrough claims that would require a high level of evidence to substantiate them,” including well-designed clinical testing, conducted on humans, which demonstrated that the products would have a protective effect on the skin directly as a result of their impact on the skin microbiome, the ASA said.

However, it concluded that the body of evidence submitted by Unilever was “insufficient to substantiate the claims in the ad as consumers were likely to understand them.”

The advert must not appear again in the form complained about.

“We told Unilever UK Ltd and Boots UK Ltd to ensure that they did not state or imply that their products had a beneficial, protective effect on the skin specifically as a result of their impact on the skin microbiome, unless they held sufficient evidence to demonstrate that was the case,” the ASA added.

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