CAP – Making sure your Instagram advertising doesn’t raise any eyebrows

The ASA/CAP have released a post called: Making sure your Instagram advertising doesn’t raise any eyebrows. I have enclosed the text of the link below, but please have a look at the ASA/CAP site as there are lots of things of interest to anyone with an interest in Ethical Marketing.

In January the Compliance team published an Enforcement Notice about ads for Botox and other botulinum toxin injections on social media. Botox is a prescription-only medicine (POM) and must not be advertised to the general public. Since this time they’ve been monitoring and reporting problem posts to Instagram for removal.

They’d rather not have to take your posts down, it’s better for everyone if you get it right first time – so here are some tips based on what they’ve seen to help you stop your posts being pulled.

Be careful with #hashtags

Hashtags are considered part of the ad – don’t ruin a good post with a bad hashtag! Adding #botox (or similar, like #btx) breaks the rules and can end up with your posts being removed. 

“Wrinkle-relaxing Injections” = Botox?

If you offer a POM like Botox as a service and advertise “wrinkle-relaxing injections”, this is considered an indirect reference to Botox and is just as much of a problem as if you’d explicitly said ‘Botox’.

Advertising Dermal Fillers and POMs?

If you offer non-POM dermal fillers alongside POMs like Botox, advertising “dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections” makes the separate reference to “anti-wrinkle injections” an indirect reference to a POM. When advertising fillers make sure you don’t accidently advertise a POM – we’d recommend just referring to “anti-wrinkle injections” or “anti-wrinkle treatments” as a collective term for both the ‘prescription-only’ and ‘non-prescription-only’ treatments (but only if you offer both).

Sharing memes

Take care when sharing memes about POMs.  Remember a meme could come from another country which doesn’t have the same regulations as the UK. If a UK-based advertiser reposts something, they become responsible for its content – don’t share anything you couldn’t post yourself.

Customer photos are still ads

Customer selfies and photos ‘fresh off the needle’ are still ads. This means the photo and accompanying text shouldn’t advertise a POM: either directly by stating the treatment used Botox, or indirectly by mentioning it was an “anti-wrinkle treatment” with a picture of a forehead or needle.


If you need more help read through the Enforcement Notice, the Botox FAQs, and check out our online resource library. You can also get free bespoke advice by getting in touch with the Copy Advice team.

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