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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ERSP Featured on Walletpop.com

ERSP was featured in an article on Walletpop.com regarding its review of the iRenew bracelet advertising.

ERSP Reviews Advertising for iRenew Bracelet; Marketer Voluntarily Discontinues, Modifies Claims

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has noted that Harvest Trading Group, which markets the iRenew bracelet, has agreed to modify or discontinue a wide range of claims at issue in a recent ERSP inquiry.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum, is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) with policy oversight by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC).

The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to its ongoing self-monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed broadcast and online advertising for the iRenew bracelet, and identified several claims for review, including performance claims, establishment claims, and expert testimonials.

Further, ERSP was concerned by the omission of material information in the consumer testimonials regarding the generally expected product performance.

At the outset of ERSP’s inquiry, Harvest Trading Group asserted that the direct response advertising at issue was being discontinued and that future performance claims for the product, including claims related to strength, balance and endurance, would be made in more limited context.

Specifically, the marketer said it would discontinue its use of balance demonstrations and qualify future claims with language consistent with evidence, such as “may promote” strength, balance, and endurance. ERSP confirmed that Harvest Trading Group removed streaming video of the original broadcast advertising and consumer testimonials from its Website.

As support for the claims at issue, Harvest Trading Group provided ERSP with several studies, including a double-blind, placebo controlled, university study that tested the product on 100 subjects. The study found that the iRenew bracelet provided a significant decrease in the mean number of errors on a balance test as compared to placebo. Results also indicated that subjects were able to complete more bench press repetitions while wearing an iRenew bracelet than a placebo bracelet.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “Harvest Direct 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 iRenew.”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

CPSC to Release Searchable Database of Safety Reports

On March 11, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will begin to make its online database of safety reports publicly available.  According to the CPSC, consumers, child service providers, health care professionals, government officials, and public safety entities will be able to file safety reports online.  Marketers then have the option to comment and both the reports and the marketer's response will be published in the database.

This adds a whole new level of transparency to consumer safety and it also demonstrates how important it is for companies to be responsive.  Consumers are likely to appreciate a company that chooses to comment on a CPSC report more than one that does not make any such acknowledgement.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ERSP Case Reports Now Part of NARC's Online Archives

The National Advertising Review Council's (NARC) Online Archives now include all 250+ ERSP case reports.

In addition to the ERSP case reports, NARC’s online searchable archives include a compilation of case reports from the other NARC supervised programs, including the National Advertising Division (NAD), the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) and the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

If you're interested in signing up or getting more info about the Online Archives, check it out here: Online Archives.

Friday, February 4, 2011

ERSP at New York Social Media Meetup

The ERSP team (the intensely focused duo at the back) at the Meetup.

ERSP attended the New York Social Media Meetup (http://www.meetup.com/Social-Media-NY/) event "Are You Breaking the Law?" which focused on regulatory compliance in social media. There was a great turnout and the event's speaker, Tom Chernaik, founder of Cmp.ly, addressed several compliance issues that businesses should be concerned about when posting on social media.

Tom Chernaik presenting at the Meetup.

The main question at the event was how and what businesses should disclose when using social media. Tom gave an excellent rundown of the FTC's Guides and provided a timeline showing the FTC's recent actions concerning endorsements.

The take-away from the event? Businesses, of any size and particularly those in heavily regulated fields like financial services, should always be careful when using endorsements on social media.