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Thursday, August 7, 2014

ERSP Recommends Real Freedom, Inc. Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims for Real Estate Mogul; Company Agrees to Do So

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Real Freedom, Inc., modify or discontinue certain claims for the Real Estate Mogul real estate investing education program, including claims related to earnings.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP through an its ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for the real estate investing program, including:

  • “You’ll gain exposure to thousands of potential buyers, sellers, lenders, and partners INSTANTLY.”
  • “It can be full-time or very part-time”
  • “You’re already pre-qualified”
  • “Hey, this closes in about 2 hours…get in there and get going! Freedom awaits!”
  • “Need money fast? Yeah…you do”
  • “You’ll make anywhere from $2,250 to $10,500 for each successful match.”

The advertising reviewed consists of the marketer’s website (www.realestatemogul.com) and email marketing for Real Estate Matchmaker.

ERSP noted in its decision that the marketer voluntarily addressed certain of the specific claims at issue, including claims that users of the program can earn money quickly or easily. ERSP also acknowledged the marketer’s pledge to discontinue or modify claims that attest to ease of use, pre-qualification, and selective enrollment.

While ERSP did not object to the marketer’s general performance claims regarding descriptions of the product or service, ERSP recommended that the marketer discontinue its sales-pressure claims and refrain from communicating sales-pressure claims in future advertising. Finally, ERSP determined that the earnings claims at issue were not adequately substantiated in their advertised context and it was recommended that these advertised earning claims be discontinued.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said that it “agrees to abide by the recommendations of ERSP and will continue to make our best effort to bring all of our marketing into compliance in a timely fashion.

Again, our ERSP review has been incredibly valuable, and we’re committed to running a business that’s entirely compliant with existing FTC regulations, as well as staying abreast of any future developments in those regulations.”

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The ERSP Copy Review - A New ERSP Service!

The Copy Review Service offers marketers the opportunity to have ERSP, a third-party self-regulatory organization, review print, broadcast, radio, and online advertising. In a Copy Review, ERSP will:
  • Review primary and core advertising claims, highlighting potential self-regulatory issues, and adhering to self–regulatory best practices and guidance provided by the appropriate regulatory authority.
  • Provide general, non-binding recommendations limited only to the specific advertising that is reviewed by ERSP. For example, ERSP’s analysis of a long form (e.g., 30 minute) broadcast advertisement may not be similarly applied to a short form (e.g., 120 second) advertisement for the same product because of the different context in which the claims may be presented.
  • Suggest what level of substantiation may be needed based upon the claims presented by the marketer and the context in which the core claims are disseminated.
Include follow-up dialogue with ERSP staff regarding the advertising.

The Copy Review Service is confidential, voluntary, non-evidentiary, non-binding and does not constitute legal advice. Please note:

  • An ERSP Copy Review that does not result in a recommendation that claims be discontinued or modified will not assure the marketer that some other action, filing or adverse finding will not occur in another regulatory or self-regulatory forum (i.e., such as the FTC or the National Advertising Division). Participation shall not be construed or represented as an endorsement or approval by ERSP, ERA, ASRC, or CBBB of a company, product or service.
  • Participation in the ERSP Program does not include an evaluation of the evidence that a marketer is or may be relying on to support any claims made in its advertising. Participants will not be required to submit evidence to substantiate core advertising claims as part of this review process.
Fees for the service vary and are dependent upon the medium of dissemination and the length of the advertisement(s).

For any questions, including ERSP Copy Review information and pricing, please contact Jessica Grodzki at jgrodzki@ersp.bbb.org.

Friday, June 6, 2014

ERSP Recommends Adams Publishing Group Modify Certain Claims for Affiliate-Marketing Program; Company Agrees to Do So

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Adams Publishing Group modify or discontinue certain claims for the Jeff Adams Real Estate Investing Expert affiliate marketing program.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP through an anonymous competitor challenge.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for the affiliate marketing, real estate investing program, including:
  • “… teaches you how to make money with real estate investing – buying and selling foreclosures and distressed properties and doing it with no money and no credit”
  • “… will help you achieve financial freedom faster than ever!”
  • “Over the past 16 years, Jeff has invested in both residential and commercial properties in a variety of different states and his real estate businesses have brought in more than $50 million”
  • “… enabled me to increase my income in ways I never thought possible. No more hype. No more confusion. Thanks so much for your help, Jeff. I didn't think it could really be done, especially not as fast as Jeff said." [Don Sanders]
The advertising consists of the marketer’s website (www.jeffadams.com), which explains that Jeff Adams is a real estate investment expert who can teach customers how to make money with real estate investing - buying and selling foreclosures and distressed properties - through courses and training.

Preliminarily, ERSP noted the marketer’s willingness to cooperate and participate in the self-regulatory process.

ERSP was concerned with representations that consumers are able to make money with no money or no credit. ERSP noted that the marketer pledged to modify the website to qualify such claims to indicate that certain strategies do not require using any of the student’s money. ERSP also acknowledged the marketer’s commitment to indicate whether certain material terms and conditions of particular lenders may apply.

ERSP also was concerned with the implication that consumers may earn money quickly and easily and recommended that such performance claims be discontinued.
ERSP noted that the marketer did not provide any evidence regarding the amount of money that consumers have earned and that the majority of earnings claims attest to Jeff Adams’ personal success in real estate investing.

The marketer informed ERSP that with regard to www.jeffadams.com, it will further modify its website to remove all earnings claims, and will refrain from making earnings claims in future advertising that is developed. ERSP further recommended that the marketer qualify the claims with a clear and conspicuous disclosure indicating that Jeff Adam’s success was atypical, by disclosing what the typical result would be.

Finally, ERSP does not dispute that the success stories depicted in the advertising are from real people with actual success stories. However, ERSP recommended that they be accompanied by clear and conspicuous language qualifying the claims with disclosures of typicality. ERSP also recommended the marketer revisit testimonial claims for any potential implied earnings messages within the context of the testimonials themselves.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said that it “agrees with ERSP's recommendations, has implemented those recommendations and will continue to comply with all federal, state and local laws, regulations, industry guidelines and best industry practices.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

ERSP Refers Advertising for Kelacore to FTC, FDA After Marketer Fails to Respond to ERSP Inquiry

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has announced it will refer direct response advertising for the dietary supplement “Kelacore”  to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the marketer, Nature's Medicine Associates, failed to respond to an ERSP inquiry.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. The marketer’s advertising came to ERSP’s attention pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

Claims at issue in the initial inquiry included:
  • "Clears deadly plaque from arteries without pills, needles, or surgery
  • "To begin with, the results of more than 34,000 patient case studies here in the U.S. are impressive to say the least. Many patients taking Kelacore™ report a 50% reduction in artery plaque. Some users report an incredible 75% reduction.”
  • “’My femoral arteries were 70% blocked,’ says Jack Yates of Vashon, WA. ‘but Kelacore™ has pretty much cleaned them out now. It’s a relief to know I’m not such a high risk person for a heart attack or stroke anymore.’”
  • “Clinical studies show it improves blood flow in the arteries. Many patients see blood pressure and cholesterol levels return to normal. Some are able to cancel costly drugs. Others avoid open-heart surgery. And many more report less chest pains and numbness in the arms, legs, and feet.” 

After failing to provide a substantive response to ERSP’s original inquiry within fifteen calendar days, the marketer was afforded a second ten-day period in which to submit a substantive response. The marketer again did not submit a written response to the inquiry and pursuant to section 2.6 (B) of the ERSP Policy and Procedures, this matter has been referred to the FTC and FDA.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ERSP Recommends PartnerWithPaul.com, LLC Modify Certain Claims for Affiliate-Marketing Program; Company Agrees to Do So

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that PartnerWithPaul.com, LLC modify or discontinue certain claims for the company’s Partner With Paul affiliate marketing program.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP through ERSP’s ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for the affiliate marketing, wealth-creation product, including:

  • “Making money online can be easier than you think when you know how ...”
  • “I work from home and pocket more money in a month than most people make all year”
  • “More importantly, I’ll PROVE that making a million dollars online is possible with the program I am about to show you.”
  • “I'm looking for a relatively small group of people who want to make lots of money online, and the whole purpose of this website is really just to help me find these people.”
  • “$5200 in first month” [Tanya D.]
Partner with Paul is an affiliate marketing program that purports to describe a marketing program to become a reseller for a multi-level-marketing program. The advertising consists of the marketer’s website (www.partnerwithpaul.com), which describes how to make money online and invites customers to create an account with Partner With Paul in order to receive a special report titled “The Only ‘Secret’ to Making Money Online.”

ERSP disagreed that the website describes a marketing program to become a reseller for a multi-level marketing program. Indeed, nowhere on the homepage of the website does the marketer describe that customers will become MLM resellers. This is material information that must be prominently and conspicuously disclosed to consumers.

ERSP remained concerned with representations regarding the implication that product users will be able to achieve the success communicated in the advertising easily, with little or no skill, and without a lot of free time. ERSP determined that one message reasonably communicated in the advertising was that consumers can earn money quickly and easily, despite the removal of the word “easy.” ERSP therefore recommended the marketer discontinue such performance claims.

ERSP also noted that the marketer did not provide any evidence regarding the amount of money that purchasers of Partner With Paul have earned using the product. ERSP acknowledged the marketer’s pledge to remove the average earnings grid and testimonial representations. ERSP additionally noted the marketer’s attempt to qualify the claims made on the homepage. However, ERSP remained concerned that the language was neither “clear and conspicuous,” nor was it located in close proximity to the claims. ERSP additionally noted that, as of today, the claim “My best friend was really mad at me…sitting in my home office, deeply in debt, he begged me to show him how I am averaging $136,808 a month online” has not been removed, despite the marketer’s pledge in the alternative. Therefore, ERSP recommended that Partner With Paul discontinue any and all earnings claims until it can support such income statements with reliable consumer data.

Finally, ERSP recognized the marketer’s commitment to removing testimonials that reference earnings, profits, and results.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said that it would follow ERSP’s suggestions and that it “…is in process of substantially revising our advertising and continue to improve our consumer messaging to be as truthful, accurate, clear and conspicuous as possible.”

Friday, April 11, 2014

ERSP Recommends Theradome Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims for Hair-Loss Laser

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that  Theradome, Inc., modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for Theradome, a product designed to treat hair loss through the use of a low-level laser.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP through an anonymous competitive challenge.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for Theradome, including:
  • “The first and only FDA cleared clinical strength laser treatment that has proven triple action”
  • “Proven to grow hair in 98 percent of users”
  • “In our clinical studies ALL participants benefited from the Theradome™ and experienced one or more of the following: 1) Thicker and more manageable hair, 2) Reduced hair loss, and 3) New hair growth after three to four months. We know it works, that's why we guarantee that you'll see great results.”
  • ”100% Proven. 100% Easy. 100% Safe.”
  • “The world’s most powerful in-home solution to treat hair loss."
As support for the performance and establishment claims at issue, the marketer submitted testing on low-level laser therapy (LLLT), the main technology behind Theradome. The marketer also provided ERSP with materials concerning its 510(k) premarket notification, which established its equivalence to a predicate device.

Following its review of the evidence in the case record, ERSP did not object to some general performance claims, but determined that the marketer did not provide adequate support for claims that Theradome will help consumers “… experience thicker and longer hair, a healthier scalp with reduced scalp itching and inflammation. Plus those with curly hair will see enhanced curl retention. After 52 treatments (20 minutes per treatment), the hairs on the top of the head and the vertex will start filling in. After 100 treatments (20 minutes per treatment), fuller and thicker hair will result with continued use.”

ERSP recommended that the marketer clearly and conspicuously disclose that Theradome is specifically intended for “females with female pattern hair loss on the Ludwig and Savin Hair Loss Scale I-II, Fitzpatrick Skin Types I to IV” as it is necessary information for consumers.

ERSP found insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the FDA had “approved” the product “to increase the diameter of hair up to 200%” – a message that ERSP determined could by reasonably understood by consumers – and recommended the marketer discontinue this claim.

Further, ERSP found that studies presented by the advertiser did not meet general standards of competent and reliable evidence and found that the marketer did not support the comparative claims at issue.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “We will continue to make appropriate modifications to advertising for Theradome LH80 PRO in accordance with ERSP's recommendations … Theradome Inc. is committed to ensuring that its advertising is truthful, accurate, and substantiated. We value and support industry self-regulation and welcome the ERSP's decision regarding advertising for the Theradome LH80 PRO medical device.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ERSP Refers Advertising for Dinamo to FTC, FDA; Marketer Fails to Respond to ERSP Inquiry

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has announced it will refer direct response advertising for Dinamo to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the marketer, Natures Flava, LLC, failed to respond to an ERSP inquiry.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to ERSP’s attention pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

Claims at issue in the initial inquiry included:
  • “Diabetes no more!”
  • “It's targeted to lower blood sugar levels and fight against diabetes!" and "Dinamo helps lower blood sugar levels."
  • When I woke up in the morning prior to the Dinamo, my insulin levels were usually in the high 200s - 250, 260, 270. And since I started using the Dinamo, that number has gone to about the 160s, 170s, 180s." [Larry]
  • "Created for DIABETICS to help maintain blood sugar levels with only NATURAL and ORGANIC ingredients.”
Pursuant to the ERSP Policies and Procedures, after failing to provide a substantive response to ERSP’s original inquiry within fifteen calendar days, the marketer was afforded a second ten-day period in which to submit a substantive response. The marketer again did not submit a written response to the inquiry and pursuant to section 2.6 (B) of the ERSP Policies and Procedures, this matter has been referred to the FTC and FDA.