Contraceptive app overhauls ads after ASA ban
The Stockholm-based company is undergoing an overhaul of its advertising and communications in light of complaints made to the ASA last year.
Launched in 2014, the app provides a natural alternative to contraception but has come under fire for claims that it is ‘highly accurate’ and provides ‘a clinically tested alternative to other birth control methods’.
Several women have come forward to share their stories of becoming pregnant while using Natural Cycles, saying they followed the app's instructions for use.
“We respect the outcome of the investigation by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) into one Facebook advertisement, which ran for approximately four weeks in mid-2017,” said a statement from the Swedish company.
“The investigation was initiated nearly 12 months ago and the advertisement was removed as soon as we were notified of the complaint.”
The investigation triggered an internal review of all Natural Cycles’ advertisements and the way that the company communicates more broadly, it reads.
“[This is] to ensure our message is clear and provides women with the information they need to determine if Natural Cycles is right for them.
“As part of these efforts, every advertisement now undergoes a strict approval process by a dedicated taskforce to ensure that it gives an accurate overall impression to the viewer.”
The company says it actively seeks user feedback to help improve the quality of its communications and, moving forwards, plans to work even more closely with third parties to test and refine its marketing approach.
“Natural Cycles has been independently evaluated and cleared by regulators in Europe and the US based on clinical evidence demonstrating its effectiveness as a method of contraception,” it concluded.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently described the app as an effective method of contraception if "used carefully and correctly".
However, following a complaint lodged by three people the ASA discovered a distinction between typical use of the app and the perfect-use scenario.
Thanks to this, it felt the app couldn’t be described as highly accurate.
To use the app women must take their temperatures every day using a basal body thermometer, which helps detect slight rises in temperature around the time of ovulation.
Users add the information into the app, which also tracks their menstrual cycle, where an algorithm analyses fertility based on basal body temperature changes.
The app’s 300,000 paying users are then told to use protection if they are fertile.