I was delighted to see that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint of mine about Dore’s advertising. I complained about an advert referring to “help with Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia or Asperger’s”. The ASA has reviewed the evidence Dore submitted to support their claims, and found that:
the evidence was inadequate to support claims to treat those [Aspergers Syndrome and dyspraxia]. With regards to dyslexia and ADHD, we did not consider that the studies were sufficiently robust to support the treatment claims for those conditions, and we therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health and beauty products and therapies).
I am delighted that the ASA has made such a firm ruling. It is also worth looking at the ASA’s decision in a bit more detail: there is lots of good material there.
Firstly, Dynevor (which trades as Dore in the UK) claimed that “they did not believe the ad claimed to provide treatment for the named conditions”. The ASA found, though, that
in the absence of any qualifying text to the contrary, that consumers were likely to understand the claim “Need help with Dyslexia, ADHD, Dyspraxia or Asperger’s?” to mean that the DORE programme could help treat the named conditions.
Dynevor also submitted some research to the ASA, in an attempt to back up their claims. However, the ASA took a careful look at this research and found that
the two studies provided by Dynevor assessed the effect of the exercise-based DORE programme on children with reading difficulties and children and adults with ADHD respectively.
We noted that the first study, consisting of an initial study and follow-up study, concluded that there was a long-lasting performance improvement in the children. However, only a minority of those children had a formal diagnosis of dyslexia and non-diagnosed children were included. We were concerned that the improvements cited may have resulted from the non-diagnosed children. We noted that a control group was used in the initial study, with children receiving no treatment, but also that there were differences in the initial levels of skill between the two groups, which could have accounted for the improvement. We further noted that the follow-up study lacked a control group, as the original control group of children had also been given treatment in the intervening period between the two studies.
Given that neither the initial study nor the follow-up study was controlled for a placebo effect, we considered that it was not possible to determine whether any reported improvements resulted from the DORE programme itself, or were a consequence of other factors, such as the development of the children over time or the results of other support they may have been receiving at school and at home.
We noted that the second, unpublished study also showed an improvement, although the study concluded that the findings were preliminary and further work was needed. Again, this study was not controlled for a placebo effect and we therefore had the same concerns about this study as mentioned above.
This is an excellent assessment of Dore’s research. Hopefully the ASA’s concerns will be reflected in future Dore advertising/PR material and in any future media coverage.