Astroforce Ltd t/a Maria Duval
Media: National press
Complaints upheld in last 12 reports: 1
Complaint from: London
Objection to a national press advertisement that was headlined “Why does Maria Duval offer you her help for free?”. It included a reply coupon that invited readers to answer questions about their personal circumstances and to send for two talismans and a set of lucky numbers, all free of charge. The complainant challenged these claims about Maria Duval:
1. “She has been making accurate & verifiable predictions for the past 23 years in at least 2,400 TV shows. 8,400 radio
2. “Her achievements have been featured in over 700 newspaper articles;
3. “She has been able to predict: – the rate of the dollar and the Stock Market Index – major newspaper headlines”;
4. “She regularly works with doctors and the police”;
5. “She has been able to telepathically locate at least 19 missing persons”; and
6. “International celebrities come from all over the world to consult her”.
(Ed 9: 3.1 , 6.1 , 7.1 )
1. Complaint upheld
The advertisers asserted that Maria Duval had featured in 8,407 radio broadcasts on four radio stations, and 2,402 television broadcasts on at least four television channels, most in France or the Mediterranean region; many of the broadcasts seemed to have included horoscopes. The Authority noted the advertisers had compiled lists of the broadcasts but had provided no independent verification of the information or other documentary evidence for the claims. It also noted the advertisers did not try to show that the predictions the claim referred to were verifiable or accurate. The Authority considered that the advertisers had not proved the claim. It asked them not to use the claim again and to take copy advice from the Committee of Advertising Practice Copy Advice team.
2. Complaint upheld
The advertisers asserted that horoscopes attributable to Maria Duval had appeared on over 4,000 occasions in the foreign newspaper, “Var Matin”, and that similar horoscopes, and related articles and quotes, had appeared in hundreds of other European newspapers and magazines. They sent copies of 28 published extracts, which included horoscopes attributed to Maria Duval and articles about her. The Authority noted some articles were favourable to Maria Duval but considered that the advertisers had not identified or explained her achievements or shown that 700 newspaper articles featured them. The Authority asked the advertisers to remove the claim and take copy advice.
3. Complaint upheld
The advertisers sent copies of five foreign newspaper articles that they asserted showed Maria Duval had predicted significant future events: two referred to the election of M. Chirac as French President; another two referred to various predictions about Swedish Government elections; a fifth incorporated a quote from Maria Duval and referred to movements in the dollar. The Authority noted many of the articles did not show the date, some were incomplete, none seemed to relate to the Stock Market and the reference to predicted currency movements involving the dollar was unclear. It also noted the advertisers did not explain when the predictions first appeared and when the subsequent events to which they related took place, to show which of Maria Duval’s predictions had come true and which had not. The Authority considered that the advertisers had not justified the claim and asked them to remove it and take copy advice.
4 & 5. Complaints upheld
The advertisers sent a copy of what seemed to be a magazine article, which was headlined “Police and doctors seek the assistance of Maria Duval”. They also sent copies of other extracts from publications and three testimonials, which they asserted proved the claims. The Authority noted the first article comprised mainly the report of an interview the author of the article had had with Maria Duval and quoted her extensively but it did not make a clear distinction between her uncorroborated claims and those that the author had independently verified. The Authority also noted the other published material and the testimonials related to the death or disappearance of three people. The Authority considered that the material the advertisers had sent did not justify the claims, which the advertisers were asked not to use again.
6. Complaint upheld
The advertisers said with one exception, Brigitte Bardot, who had given permission for her name to be used, they were unable to divulge the names of the celebrities who consulted Maria Duval, because they were confidential. They sent copies of four press articles that linked Brigitte Bardot with Maria Duval. The Authority noted the advertisers could not substantiate the claim and asked them to remove it and take copy advice.