• The company SA Natural Products has been ordered to withdraw its ad claiming its Bio-Strath product will boost exam marks by 30%.
  • Complainants told an advertising watchdog the claims were “unproven and misleading”.
  • The Advertising Regulatory Board said testimonials should not contain any claims to efficacy which cannot justifiably be attributed to the use of the product.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.

The Advertising Regulatory Board has ordered that SA Natural Products must withdraw ad ad for its Bio-Strath product, which suggests the supplement will improve learners’ exam marks by 30%.

The ad, in the form of a mother’s testimonial broadcast in English and Afrikaans, says: “30%! Bio-Strath improved my son’s marks by 30%. School was always a fight. Tutors, teachers, diet, we tried everything! My friend recommended Bio-Strath. I didn’t know the brain is the hungriest organ of the body?! Bio-Strath feeds the brain and body and is clinically proven. My boy has changed; he’s confident, and school’s a happy place. My whole family takes Bio-Strath, because it’s more than just brain food”.

The television commercial features the same voice-over script, and visuals of a disheartened learner who progresses from an “F” on his test to a “C+”.

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Two complaints said the claim was “unproven and misleading”. 

“If the claimed impact on academic performance were true, this product would provide the solution to South Africa’s educational crisis,” one said in his complaint to the board.

“At best, this product might contribute to improved brain functioning, which might assist while studying. The product was being marketed as a ‘quick fix’ for poor academic performance, which is blatantly opportunistic, and warrants a reprimand,” added the other.

SA Natural Products said the ad was based on a testimonial received from a mother who was thrilled with the impact Bio-Strath had on her child’s academic performance, and that this was clearly articulated through the use of pronouns such as “My son’s grades” and “We tried everything”.

The company said several academic and clinical trials have proven Bio-Strath’s positive impact on signs and symptoms of ADHD, restlessness, agitation, and academic performance.

See also: Standard Bank has been banned from selling data plans using an ‘ambiguous’ advertisement with 'complicated mathematical reasoning'

The advertising watchdog, however, said “testimonials should not contain any claims to efficacy which cannot justifiably be attributed to the use of the product, and any specific or measurable results claimed should be fairly presented”.

The ARB also said the commercial placed significant emphasis on the figure of 30%. Consumers would therefore still expect to see a marked improvement, significant enough to be attributed to the product.

Also taken into account is the fact that the testimonial is 13 years old.

While the product formulation of Bio-Strath has remained unchanged for the past 58 years, the same cannot be said for South Africa’s education system, which has undergone dramatic changes to curriculum, teaching methodology, and reliance on additional resources such as the internet – all of which could conceivable have had dramatic impact on general academic performance, the ARB found.

Bio-Strath is named for biochemist Walter Strathmeyer, and is made by feeding Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Meyen) yeast a mixture of herbs, and then fermenting it.

Compiled by Estrelita Moses.

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