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.
Blog Posts Tagged with Endorsements
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.
The FTC has gone to court hundreds of times to stop allegedly misleading weight loss claims and Roca Labs’ “gastric bypass alternative” promises are no exception. But other parts of the complaint – including a count challenging the defendants’ use of consumer gag clauses as an unfair practice – warrant a careful reading.
Baseball lore has it that Hall of Famer Ted Williams’ eyesight was so acute he could see the seams on a fastball. Developers of an app called Ultimeyes claimed that using their product “gives baseball players superhuman vision.” For some of us though, a daily task like reading a menu in a dimly lit restaurant is a swing and a miss. No problem, said the company. “25 minutes on this app will improve your vision by 31%” – results supposedly verified by a published university study.
You don’t need to go to a water park to see performing seals. You can spot them on websites where they perform the function of conveying information about the purported environmental benefits of products. But do the groups offering those seals – and the companies that display them – have appropriate proof for the claims consumers take from them? If your clients use environmental seals or certifications, you’ll want to see the latest from the FTC staff.
If there’s a material connection between a marketer and an endorser, disclose it. That’s been the FTC standard for decades and it didn't change when marketing moved to social media. The FTC’s proposed settlement with online entertainment network Machinima illustrates missteps that could land advertisers, ad agencies, and PR firms in testimonial turmoil. But what about endorsers, affiliates, influencers, brand ambassadors, etc.?
It’s one thing to create buzz about a product. But fail to disclose a material connection between an endorser and an advertiser and that buzz can wind up stinging you. That’s the message of an FTC lawsuit against Machinima, a top entertainment network on YouTube that specializes in videogame culture and generates more than 3 billion (with a b) views each month.
After the FTC revised its Endorsement Guides in 2009, we followed up with What People are Asking, an informal staff publication to answer questions that were on advertisers’ minds. More than five years have passed – a lifetime in blog years – but the legal principles remain the same. What has changed are the kinds of questions we’re getting.
In her blog, a registered nurse offered candid opinions about a broad range of topics, including parenthood, men with comb-overs, and the challenges of menopausal weight gain. There wasn’t much she could do about the comb-over issue, but she claimed to have found a solution to those extra pounds: a dietary supplement called Amberen.
By now, it shouldn’t be news. Using illegal spam and bogus news sites to convey false claims for diet products is bound to attract FTC attention. Oh, and did we mention the phony representation that the products were endorsed by Oprah and the people on the TV show "The Doctors"?
Does your company participate in the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework? It’s a voluntary international privacy program administered by the Department of Commerce that lets companies transfer data from the EU to the U.S. in compliance with EU law. Of course, data security and privacy are everyday obligations for companies, but are you honoring one particular once-a-year provision? And what about promises you make regarding how you resolve consumer disputes?
Consumers often first go to online review sites when they are thinking about buying a product or hiring a service provider. As a result, most businesses are concerned about managing their online reputation. But a recent FTC proposed settlement offers some lessons for businesses that seek to solicit online reviews with cash or other incentives.