Wild Cosmetics falls afoul of ASA for slating traditional deodorants in ad

By Julia Wray | Published: 17-May-2023

The natural deodorant brand's YouTube video campaign claimed mainstream deodorants are linked to hormonal imbalances, itchiness and body odour

Wild Cosmetics has been taken to task by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for claims that traditional deodorants are linked to hormonal imbalances, itchiness and body odour.

The ASA ruled that the YouTube video advert for the natural deodorant brand must not appear again it its current form.

Titled ‘Wild Natural deodorant – Sustainable & 100% Effective’, the campaign featured shots of a model applying and then throwing aside a series of spray-on deodorants while appearing itchy and uncomfortable. 

A voiceover stated: “You’re giving yourself bad BO when you don’t even realise. I’ve tried just about every traditional deodorant you can buy. Turns out most deodorants block your body from being able to sweat properly.

“Your pores get clogged with all the sweat and toxins that your body is supposed to release, so you can end up with itchy armpits, and rashes and body odour.”

The voiceover added that Wild’s deodorants “use natural ingredients that absorb odour so your body can sweat like it’s supposed to and smell fresh all day long”.

The video’s caption included the phrase: “No aluminiums or other harsh chemicals.”

A complainant challenged whether the claim that most deodorants prevented the body from expelling harmful toxins resulting in rashes, etc, was misleading.

They also challenged comments on Wild’s website that aluminium salts, the active ingredient in mainstream antiperspirants, were linked to undesirable side effects on health, “based on the impacts of these salts being absorbed into the body and upsetting some fine-tuned hormonal balances, for example within the endocrine system”.

The ASA upheld both parts of the complaint, noting that consumers were likely to understand the ad as making a comparative claim that attributed the negative effects on health and body odour mentioned to any antiperspirant or deodorant product that inhibited sweating, or contained ingredients that were more synthetic than those of the advertised product.

It ruled that Wild needed to hold robust scientific evidence to not only substantiate that the use of all such competing deodorants or antiperspirants had a negative impact on health and body odour in the ways claimed, but also that, in light of those risks, the advertised product was a safer alternative to those products.

The ASA also stressed that Wild needed similarly robust scientific evidence to substantiate the claim that antiperspirants containing aluminium salts harmed users by interfering with bodily functions reliant on the distribution of hormones.

Wild, it said, had not provided any evidence consisting of clinical trials conducted on people that supported the claim.

Wild Cosmetics soft launched in 2019 with a mission to disrupt the deodorant category. 

Key features include its biodegradable, compostable and refillable packaging, which is said to fully compost in six months and biodegrade within 12.

The ruling marks the second time this year that Wild Cosmetics has been criticised by the ASA.

In January, a deodorant ad for the brand featuring a woman masturbating and a dirty talking polar bear was criticised by the advertising watchdog.

This particular video was taken to task because it appeared on a YouTube video intended to appeal to children. 

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