Following a complaint from the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance over several published advertorials which rated ‘the best UK CBD oils, the UK’s regulator of advertising has published its ruling into whether misleading claims were made.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has investigated a number of issues around four misleading advertorials in the CBD oil space.
These were published on various news outlets and promoted by Consumer Logic Research.
The CBD oil ad complaint
One complaint was received by the ASA from the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), which said it understood that Consumer Logic Research had a commercial relationship with the brands mentioned in the advertorials. The brands it flagged were Vibes CBD and Blessed CBD.
Given the proposed relationship between the organisations, ESSNA challenged whether the advertorials misled readers into thinking the products were independently reviewed and recommended.
Three of the four advertorials under question featured listicle-type headlines, for example: “The 6 best CBD oil products to try in the UK (2021)”, while the fourth was entitled: “CBD Oil: Blessed CBD – Buy UK CBD Oil for sale (2022)” and began: “Here Consumer Logic Research takes a look at CBD oil and recommends what readers should buy. The best CBD oil brands in the UK, such as Blessed CBD […].”
Within all advertorials, brands associated with Consumer Logic were endorsed. For example, in the ‘6 best’ advertorial, rated from first to sixth were Blessed CBD, Vibes CBD, Excite CBD, Dragonfly CBD, Love Hemp and Provacan. The end of the article also featured the statement: “We recommend Blessed CBD as the best CBD oil in the UK”.
ESSNA also raised issue with some of the claims included in the advertorials, which it suggested highlighted CBD oil to be an effective treatment for certain health conditions.
Statements included in the aforementioned articles were as follows: “CBD has helped people the world over with issues like chronic pain, seizures, sleep disorders, and more”, “A natural way to manage chronic pain […] all can prove effective in alleviating the body from unwanted pain […] a safer alternative to traditional, hardcore prescription drugs”, and “the plant-derived substance possess natural healing properties that are said to treat a number of chronic neurological issues”, among others.
The response from brands under fire
According to a release issued by the ASA, CBD Health Foods Ltd t/a Vibes CBD said that the advertorials were created by publishers who “did not request their supervision or give them creative control when the advertorials were created” this meant they were restricted from making direct changes.
As ASA reports, Enigmaa Ltd t/a Blessed CBD said that Consumer Logic Research had signed up to their affiliate marketing programme. They sent Consumer Logic Research free samples of their products for them to independently test. They said that they offered one of the highest affiliate commissions in the industry and that this may have been a factor why affiliates chose to promote their products.
They added that the advertorials did not belong to them, and they were therefore limited with what they could do. However, they have also said they would let all their affiliates know that all marketing materials should clearly display a disclosure that made clear it was affiliate marketing.
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