TV and online ads for breast enlargement procedures from cosmetic surgery brand Mya, which ran during Love Island, have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the watchdog ruled that the spots were “irresponsible and harmful”.
The ad showed young women posing for photos, dancing and enjoying a group holiday in Ibiza.
A voiceover told viewers: 'If you've been considering breast enlargements for a while, then visit mya.co.uk to book your free consultation,' before saying: 'These girls had breast enlargements with Mya and all feel amazing.'
On-screen text read: ‘No surgical procedure is without risk. 18+. Any decision to have cosmetic surgery should not be undertaken lightly. Allow plenty of time to reflect before going ahead with a procedure.’
The ads – a TV spot shown in May, June and July, and on the ITV Player OTT service in July – prompted 17 complaints, including one from charity the Mental Health Foundation. The mental health charity said the ads “trivialized breast enhancement surgery and portrayed it as aspirational, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful.”
The ad ran for three months, including during ITV’s summer hit Love Island. The network was criticised by the head of the NHS for allowing breast enlargement ads to be shown around the programme. In August, ITV's head of digital Paul Mortimer brushed off concerns, saying "we're a sexy channel".
Mya stated that the ad focused on positive lifestyles and did not explore negative attitudes to body image prior to breast enlargement. It said that the ad featured real patients, all over 21, and that it did not imply that the women were only enjoying themselves because of the surgery.
However the ASA said that the photography used in the ad and the “slim physiques and large breasts” of the women depicted, had the effect of drawing the viewers’ eye to their bodies.
The fact that they had all had surgery appeared to be a “crucial factor that enabled them to enjoy revealing clothing, dancing and taking photos” as well as their luxury holiday. The ASA ruled that this implied that the ad drew a direct link between the women’s enjoyment of their lives and breast surgery.
Furthermore, the watchdog said that the wording of the voiceover acted as an explicit call to action, and that the on-screen text contrasted with the tone of the ad, “trivializing the decision to undergo surgery”.
Mya has been told that the ads must not appear again in the form complained of, and that future marketing must not imply women could only enjoy an aspirational lifestyle or be happy if they had breast enhancements.
The ASA has previously banned Mya ads for suggesting that surgery could help to fix young women’s insecurities about their bodies.