Silence may be golden, but not when it comes to contract clauses that would muzzle consumer complaints. That’s one message from an FTC settlement with the makers of NutriMost weight-loss products. Here’s another: don’t make weight-loss claims without scientific evidence to back them.
Blog Posts Tagged with Endorsements
If Instagram is the home of Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday, #IGers should think of today as Word to the Wise Wednesday.
Imagine a series of promotions that involve pain relief promises, cognition claims, endorsements, 30-minute radio ads, “risk-free” money-back guarantees, “free” trial offers, negative options, telemarketing, and upsells of buying club memberships. What could possibly go wrong for consumers?
Where would you like to start?
Congress unanimously passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect people’s ability to share in any forum their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct. Some companies had been using contract provisions – including their online terms and conditions – to threaten to sue consumers or penalize them financially for posting negative reviews or complaints. The new law makes that illegal.
“Just like the white winged dove sings a song,” you can count on the BCP Business Blog to celebrate the “Edge of Seventeen” – 2017, of course – with a recap of in-case-you-missed-it developments from 2016. (Sorry, Stevie Nicks. That was a stretch.) In no particular order, here is our take on ten noteworthy consumer protection actions from the year gone by.
Is it time for a little heart-to-heart about making health claims for mobile apps? An FTC settlement with California-based Aura Labs challenges misleading representations the company made about its Instant Blood Pressure app. In addition, if you keep your finger on the pulse of FTC endorsement law, the complaint describes a course of conduct marketers will want to avoid.
As consumers age, they want to remain supple, as in limber, lithe, and flexible. Ads for the beverage Supple claimed the product would provide complete and long-lasting relief from joint pain and treat chronic pain caused by arthritis and fibromyalgia. But according to the FTC, the marketers of Supple were a little too flexible – with the facts, that is. The FTC’s lawsuit also challenges the independence of the doctor who endorsed the product.
Not many kids play with yo-yos these days, but an FTC complaint against nine related Los Angeles-area car dealers charges that the companies engaged in (among other things) illegal yo-yo financing practices – and for affected consumers, it was no game. Even if you don’t have clients in the auto industry, this case merits your attention.
In the popular video game Shadow of Mordor, players don’t just randomly slash, hack, and pillage. They battle specific opponents through a feature known as the Nemesis System. In the FTC’s lawsuit against Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, truth in advertising had a nemesis: paid pitches for Shadow of Mordor that Warner Bros. deceptively claimed were independent reviews.
Online reviews and endorsements can be key to consumers’ decision-making. In fact, surveys show that over 70% of American consumers turn to online sources before making a purchase. Advertisers already should know about FTC principles for making sure that online reviews and endorsements are honest and not misleading.
Short of jumping into the Tardis to consult with intergalactic medical experts, how can consumers separate the hope from the hype when evaluating claims for health products? That’s where SmartClick Media’s “Doctor Trusted” website certification program claimed to help. But an FTC lawsuit alleges that the “Doctor Trusted” seal and the “Doctor Trusted.org Consumer Protection Certificate” weren’t to be trusted.
For companies that peddle phony student loan debt relief, we have a message for you: Winter is coming.
“Slash your risk of cancer” – by using a tanning bed? That claim caught our attention, too. A settlement with Dr. Joseph Mercola and two Illinois-based companies includes $5.3 million in refunds for people who bought Mercola’s indoor tanning systems. The case also offers a reminder to advertisers to consider established science in crafting your ad claims and a compliance message if your marketing materials feature endorsements.
It’s a fetching frock with spaghetti straps, an engineered paisley print, and an asymmetrical hemline.
According to the musical “Grease,” some things go together like “rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.” Some other things go together, too. They’re easier to pronounce, but do much more harm to consumers. What do we have in mind?
Bogus weight loss claims and deceptive “free” trial offers.
To quote everyone’s favorite Vulcan, “Live long and prosper.” But an FTC action against a San Francisco-based app company named Vulcun alleges that’s not what happened to consumers. According to the complaint, the company hit customers with an unfair and deceptive switcheroo of galactic proportions.
Ads for Lumosity’s “brain training” program made it sound simple. Play games for 10-15 minutes several times a week to delay memory decline; protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; improve school, work, and athletic performance; and reduce the effects of everything from ADHD to post-traumatic stress disorder. But an FTC complaint alleges that defendant Lumos Labs didn’t have sound science to support those claims. What’s the message for marketers?
2015 saw the end of The Late Show with David Letterman, but his Top 10 List legacy lives on. From the home office in Washington, D.C., here is our informal take on ten topics we covered this year in the BCP Business Blog.
If what looks to be an article, video, or game is really an ad – but it’s not readily identifiable to consumers as such – the FTC has another word for it: deceptive. Ads that blur the line between advertising and content have long been a consumer protection concern under Section 5 of the FTC Act.
The marketers of products as diverse as dietary supplements, mobile apps, cosmetics, and apparel may not think they have much in common. But if they make health-related representations, they all need sound science to support what they say. Here are five principles to help keep your practices in line with the law.