News

Vitaco Health advertorial on Studio 10 banned for ‘masquerading as a news story’

A Vitaco Health advertorial which appeared as part of Network 10’s morning talk show Studio 10, has been banned for “masquerading as a news story” and “was not clearly distinguishable as advertising material to the relevant audience”.

The in-program advertorial was promoting the brands Nutra-Life Kyolic Aged Garlic product and was presented by one of the hosts who listed statistics relating to heart and cardiovascular disease, before she welcomed a guest cardiologist to discuss how risk factors can be reduced.

A different Vitaco Health ad using The Project co-host Lisa Wilkinson

Complaints posted to Ad Standards said the advertorial was “misleading”, “ethically, democratically and financially” wrong for “masquerading” the product promotion as a news story.

“But when it’s presented on a news show as news, and goes without challenge, it gains credibility and the seriousness is elevated. It is no longer questionable self-promotion, it earns some approval.

“Surely news shows and their TV stations have a moral, if not legal, obligation to report the whole story. People place trust in news. When advertisers exploit that trust by, in essence, paying to manufacture or manipulate a story, that is unacceptable,” other complaints stated.

Vitaco Health defended the promotion and said viewers were told it was a paid segment “via a play-off after the segment” as well as in the end credits.

“That disclosure adheres to the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice in relation to the disclosure of commercial arrangements,” the advertiser added.

Considering both the complaints and the advertiser’s response, Ad Standards said the ad did appear different to the usual format of advertorials and by linking the story to current events and statistics the segment could have easily been mistaken for a news story on cardiovascular health.

“The segment itself did not contain any indication through visual or audio statements or any other action that the content was commercial in nature and was a promotion for a specific product.

“The nature of the content, where the content was placed, how consumers were directed to the content, the theme, visuals and language used in the advertisement did not make it clear to the relevant audience that the content was commercial in nature,” the ad watchdog said upholding the complaint.

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