21 August 2013

Cansa apologises to public

The Advertising Standards Authority recently reached a decision regards the complaint laid by Herschell against the Q20 Pink campaign. Below is the Cancer Association of South Africa's response.

The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) entered into a cause-related agreement with Triton Leo (at their request), the manufacturers of Q20, a leading retail multi-purpose lubricant with a market share of 70%, to help raise awareness and funds for its Women’s Health Campaign. The campaign took the form of a limited edition pink can of Q20 spray which attracted a donation of 50c by Triton Leo per can sold during July and August 2013.

The visual appearance of the Q20 can in this campaign provoked a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authorities (ASA) by Arm Advertising and Design (ARM) on behalf of its client, Herschell, a competitor to Triton in the lubricant industry.

The complaint to the ASA alleges that Q20 will benefit unfairly and unethically as consumers are being led to believe that Q20 is endorsed by Cansa. They further indicated that Q20 contains perchloroethylene (PERC) which has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) - based on sufficient evidence of PERC carcinogenicity in animals but insufficient evidence in humans.

'Error of judgement'

Responding to complaints made by Herschell to Cansa, CEO Sue Janse van Rensburg thanked the company for alerting the organisation.

"Unfortunately, in giving approval to the campaign, Cansa’s normal processes were not fully adhered to, with a further error of judgement on our part regarding the classification of PERC as being only 2B rather than 2A, the same classification as cell phones. It was thought at the time, as with cell phones, certain products such as Q20 are useful and practical within and around the home despite their classification. Thus Cansa would caution and educate the public on the correct and safe usage of these items."

Janse van Rensburg indicated that Cansa was given no reason to question the motives of the manufacturers of Q20 and needs to point out that Cansa did not award its Seal of Recognition to this product.

When Cansa awards a Seal of Recognition to a product, this is an indication that Cansa endorses the use of the product as well as its safety, which in the case of the Q20 product, was not the position. They only agreed to a short term, once-off cause-related agreement.

She continues, “In the meantime Cansa has been made aware of the fact that this product contains PERC which indeed is a category 2A carcinogen. Cansa apologises to the public for any misperception caused and again wishes to emphasise the importance on the correct and safe usage of products like Q20 which contain PERC.

'Isolated incident'

"Cansa has ensured that our advice is noticeable and available on our website. In this way, the public will gain practical insight into the existence of PERC and other similar products and thus be made aware of how to use it safely.

"I want to thank Triton for their gesture in wanting to support Cansa’s work and we thank the public that have supported this campaign as that was the intention. However, Cansa has decided not to accept the direct income derived from the sales of the Q20 product as the credibility of its watchdog role is of more importance."

Janse van Rensburg concluded, "Cansa does not wish to be dragged into a commercial battle among market rivals. As the whole issue is receiving the attention of the ASA at present, it is sub judice. Consequently it would be inappropriate for Cansa to become involved in a dispute between the two parties in question. However, we are responsible enough to acknowledge our error of judgement and want to assure the public that this was an isolated incident.
"We’ll be more alert when approached with future offers regarding cause-related campaign proposals and will most surely double our vigilance and apply more control measures."
Cansa press release


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CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst and Head of Advocacy Magdalene Seguin. For more information, visit

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