CSS Menu

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Very Best of Ralph Nader

ERSP Director Peter Marinello wrote an article, "The Very Best of Ralph Nader," featured in April's Electronic Retailer magazine - read it here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FTC Files Complaints Against Affiliate Marketers of Acai Berry

The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it is seeking to take action against 10 online affiliate marketers of acai berry products. The FTC alleges that the marketers have been using fake news blogs, which often included links to and logos of legitimate new organizations, as a way of "...enticing consumers to buy the featured acai berry weight-loss products from other merchants." According to the FTC, even the comments posted in response to "blog" posts were fake and purportedly written by the marketers themselves.

The ads in question (“Acai Berry Diet Exposed: Miracle Diet or Scam?”) were featured prominently on popular websites. The marketers spent more than $10 million in placing the ads on these sites, but the FTC believes the commissions more than made up for the cost.

For more details, see the FTC's press release: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/04/fakenews.shtm

Thursday, April 7, 2011

ERSP at IILP's Advertising and Media Law Seminar

ERSP attended New York Law School's Institute for Information Law and Policy's Advertising and Media Law Seminar on April 4th.

The panels covered everything from mobile media marketing to the logistics of carrying out an international advertising campaign, all from a legal perspective. The speakers brought up several timely questions (Is a "Like" an endorsement? To what extent should marketers be held responsible for user-generated content?) and offered some interesting, and surprising, stats (Mobile devices outshipped PCs in Q4 2010).

With the explosive growth in mobile media marketing and other new forms of advertising (a topic for another day), direct response advertisers, often at the forefront of these developments, will likely start adapting to the changing market. As advertisers and marketers branch into this uncharted territory, it'll be interesting to see how some of the legal questions will be addressed and ultimately, answered.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PR: Hindsight Nutritionals Participates in ERSP Forum - ERSP Finds Support for Certain Claims; Recommends Marketer Modify Certain Claims

New York, NY – April 6, 2011 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that Hindsight Nutritionals, marketer of the Evercleanse System, provided adequate support for general weight loss and establishment claims, but recommended the marketer modify certain claims.

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 monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed broadcast, online, and radio advertising for Evercleanse, and identified several claims for review, including:

Performance Claims
·        “Lose the waste. Lose the weight”
·        “How hard is it to lose 10 to 30 pounds or more?”
·         “…but there is a safe, fast, and effective way to lose weight and keep it off, even if you’ve had trouble losing weight in the past.”

Establishment Claims
·        “200% more weight loss!”
·        “Evercleanse is a trusted brand that's been around for years, backed by scientific studies and serious clinical trials”
·        “Scientifically developed and clinically proven means you can cleanse, detoxify, burn away fat and lose up to 200% more weight than diet and exercise alone.”
·        “scientifically proven to lose 200% more weight”
·        “In addition, the cleansing and detoxification program, is designed to work with Evercleanse Slim a weight loss component powered by 7-Keto, the only natural dietary supplement for weight loss, whose efficacy and safety is supported by published scientific research.”
·        “Evercleanse Slim contains a patented ingredient known as 7-Keto. This powerful, stimulant-free weight loss formula is backed by published clinical studies which show : When combined with a healthy diet and exercise program, a 200% greater weight loss than diet and exercise alone; 7-Keto is clinically proven to help reduce body fat and body weight.”

Consumer Testimonials
·        “The results have been astonishing, I have lost 18 pounds, my appetite has lessened and I am more regular than ever before, thanks EverCleanse” [Lori, CA]
·        “EverCleanse is a great product! I lost weight and have never felt better.” [Janice, FL]
·        “If this weight loss keeps up, I am going to be able to fit into my wedding dress from 20 years ago” [Claire, CA]

At the outset of ERSP’s inquiry, Hindsight Nutritionals asserted that it is no longer advertising on television and radio and it is in the process of reviewing its remaining advertising for Evercleanse products. Hindsight Nutritionals informed ERSP that it has removed one of the consumer testimonials that included quantified weight loss claims.

As support for the general weight loss and establishment claims at issue, Hindsight Nutritionals referenced previous ERSP reviews of products containing 7-Keto DHEA, the main ingredient in Evercleanse Slim, and provided the same clinical studies as evidence. Since Evercleanse Slim contains an identical amount of 7-Keto DHEA as used in the studies, ERSP saw no reason to deviate from its earlier decisions, and found the evidence to provide adequate support for the general performance claims.

ERSP determined that it is important for consumers to be provided with a qualified context for advertising claims. Specifically, ERSP recommended that Hindsight Nutritionals modify claims to include a basis of comparison (e.g., “lose up to 200% more weight than diet and exercise alone”).

Additionally, ERSP noted that Hindsight Nutritionals should clearly distinguish its Evercleanse Slim product, the subject of the clinical studies submitted, from its Evercleanse cleansing and replenishing products in an effort to help consumers understand that the “clinically proven” claims reference Evercleanse Slim alone.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “Hindsight Nutritionals supports the work of the NARC and specifically the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program and their efforts to ensure integrity in the direct response industry. Hindsight feels the inquiries made as part of this review were good and helpful in providing additional insight into the perception of our advertising. Going forward we will endeavor to separate any references to clinically or scientifically proven from our colon cleansing products and our weight loss product.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

Online Privacy: FTC & Google Reach Settlement

On Wednesday, the FTC announced it had reached a settlement with Google concerning the company's social network, Google Buzz. The terms of the settlement require Google to "establish and maintain a comprehensive privacy program" and that it "have audits conducted by independent third parties every two years to assess its privacy and data protection practices."

As online privacy becomes an increasingly popular topic of conversation, we're likely to see more regulatory decisions regarding the rights of consumers online.