04 August 2021

Tighter Rules Needed To Restrict Under-18s Exposure To Cosmetic Interventions Ads

Leading provider calls for influencer restrictions and pre-watershed TV ban

Transform Hospital Group has today called for new regulations for advertisers of cosmetic interventions, aimed at strengthening rules that would restrict under-18s from viewing or engaging with cosmetic interventions marketing content, on- and offline.

In an industry first, Transform Hospital Group, the independent healthcare organisation and the UK’s leading provider of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic interventions, is urging regulators to introduce a number of measures to restrict under-18s’ exposure to cosmetic interventions marketing content across all advertising channels.

The company has also independently committed to a series of industry-leading steps to further restrict the extent to which under-18s may view or interact with its cosmetic interventions marketing and advertising content.  

Transform Hospital Group has called for new rules that include:

  • A ban on partnerships between advertisers of cosmetic interventions and social media influencers under the age of 25 - or with influencers whose content is likely to appeal to under-18s.
  • Regulation and guidelines that require cosmetic interventions advertisers to demonstrate that due diligence has been undertaken to restrict, to the greatest extent possible, under-18s from viewing content associated with social media influencer partnerships.
  • A requirement on cosmetic interventions advertisers to display a disclaimer on their social media profiles stating that the content on their channel is only suitable for over-18s.
  • A ban on pre-watershed (9pm) broadcast advertising of surgical and non-surgical cosmetic interventions.

The company believes that the introduction of these measures would mark a significant step towards ensuring that the marketing of cosmetic interventions, which is designed exclusively for an adult audience, does not inadvertently reach or influence under-18s.

Christine Mozzamdar, Clinical Services Director at Transform Hospital Group, said:

“We are firm in our belief that any marketing activities specific to the cosmetic interventions we deliver are only suitable for, and should be solely viewed by, adults and must be developed sensitively and appropriately. We therefore take extremely seriously our responsibility to ensure our own marketing activities are focused on our intended audience and do not target under-18s, directly or indirectly.

“We are, however, aware that the marketing of cosmetic interventions is exposed to a rapidly evolving, fluid and often unpredictable cultural environment, notably as a result of the way people use, share and engage with content on social media platforms.

“We are also keenly aware that under-18s are often particularly exposed to this environment, which may inform perceptions of their own body image, sometimes with negative consequences for their mental health and self-esteem. We believe that all organisations or individuals providing, or advertising, cosmetic interventions have a duty to reflect on the complex issues that may surround these procedures and respond accordingly, taking all possible steps to ensure under-18s are not exposed to marketing content.

“As a healthcare organisation, and one of the UK’s leading providers of cosmetic interventions, we recognise our responsibility to lead the way on this issue.

“That’s why we are calling for new regulations and guidelines that tighten the existing rules governing cosmetic interventions marketing, with a particular focus on strengthening checks and balances relevant to under-18 audiences, which we believe will bolster the Advertising Standards Authority’s ongoing work in this area. At the same time, we have put in place additional internal policies and procedures which we will be happy to share with others across the industry.

“Given the way in which many children and teenagers engage with online content, it is clear that social media platforms themselves also have a central role to play in finding a solution to this challenge. It is vital that platforms therefore continue work to develop mechanisms that help advertisers to more effectively police who views or engages with their content – directly or via third parties, such as social media influencers.”

Transform Hospital Group has launched a range of marketing policies and protocols internally, focused on restricting the extent to which under-18s may view or engage with its marketing content. These include:

  • An under-18s entry barrier has been added to the website of Transform Hospital Group’s cosmetic interventions brand, Transform: transforminglives.com.
  • The company will not work with models and social media influencers under the age of 25, or whose content may appeal to an audience under the age of 18 particularly.
  • A disclaimer will be attached to all social media channels operated by the company, stating that content is appropriate only for audiences over-18. Disclaimers to this effect will also be attached to any content published by a social media influencer in connection with a marketing partnership with the company.
  • In addition to conducting no pre-watershed TV advertising activity, the company will not conduct cosmetic interventions marketing activity in or around programmes that are likely to appeal to audiences under the age of 18.