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Monday, August 15, 2011

ERSP Reviews Advertising for Stemplex: Marketer Voluntarily Discontinues, Modifies Claims

New York, NY –  August 15, 2011 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Simplexity Health modify marketing materials for the company’s “StemPlex” product to better inform consumers that its advertising claims are based on the results of studies done in laboratories or on animals, not on humans. The marketer has agreed to do so.

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 an anonymous competitive challenge.

ERSP reviewed online advertising for StemPlex, which claims to promote stem cell growth, and identified several claims for review, including:

·        “70% increase in adult stem cell production”
·        “Provide micronutrition that enables stem cells to flourish.”
·        “Protect existing stem cells and nervous system cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.”
·        “Enhances survival of nervous system cells by up to 55%”
·        “…the increase in stem cell production gained from using StemPlex is far greater than the increase that occurs through use of the ingredients individually.”
·        “All of the ingredients in this exceptional formula have been shown to increase the proliferation of adult stem cells in vitro (in a test tube); when they are combined, the increase is even greater,” and “Increases the growth of adult stem cells, as shown in in vitro laboratory studies.”

During the course of ERSP’s review, Simplexity voluntarily modified certain claims, adding the terms “in vitro,” “in vivo,” and “animal studies” where appropriate.

However, as ERSP noted in its decision, “it is imperative that advertisers in this product category not simply be judicious in communicating accurate and non-misleading messages to consumers, but also be cognizant of any additional information they provide to consumers.”

ERSP recommended that the marketer provide a link to the studies that form the basis of support for its claims to provide “the necessary clarity for consumers in recognizing the limitations of the resulting data.”

Simplexity Health informed ERSP that it had removed some of the testimonials that were subject of the original inquiry; however, ERSP noted that a section (“Voices”) on Simplexity Health’s site included consumer statements that create expectations regarding product performance. ERSP concluded that the evidence submitted does not support these claims and recommended the marketer modify the “Voices” section of its site to remove testimonials that speak directly to product performance.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said it “...will add the recommended links to the full text versions of the published StemPlex research reports that support our performance claims in our online advertising so there is no possibility the claims could be potentially misinterpreted. Additionally, Simplexity will modify or remove those testimonials that include claims that are not directly supported by the scientific data.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ERSP Finds DR-Ho’s Can Support Certain Claims for ‘Slimmies’ - Recommends Marketer Modify Certain Claims

New York, NY – August 10, 2011 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that clinical studies on a key ingredient – LuraLean – provide adequate support for performance claims made by DR-Ho’s for “Slimmies Weight Loss Chocolates.”  The marketer agreed to voluntarily modify other claims as recommended by ERSP.

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 ERSP’s attention pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online advertising for Slimmies, and identified several claims for review, including:

Performance Claims
·        “SLIMMIES weight loss chocolates will gently expand in your stomach to help curb your appetite and cravings to help you prevent from over-eating.”
·        “SLIMMIES’ active ingredient will help give your metabolism the boost it needs by cleaning the build up of triglycerides, undigested food and fats from your digestive system.”
·        “It’s natural and safe.”
·        “No more diets and depriving yourself, just eat sensible and remember your Slimmies.”

Establishment Claims
·        “SLIMMIES Weight Loss Chocolates contain a breakthrough active ingredient that is clinically shown to help absorb the fats from the foods you eat.  It helps bind to the oils, fats and grease to help reduce your calorie absorption.”
·        “In a study conducted by the University of Connecticut, participants were provided with either Slimmies’ Proprietary Ingredient or a Placebo.  Compared to their baseline weights, participants who took Slimmies’ Proprietary Ingredient lost on average 4.9 lbs in just 4 weeks. Comparatively, those who took the Placebo only lost an average of 0.4 lbs.”
·        “Clinically proven active ingredient formulated with a delicious mouth watering chocolate that will help reduce fat absorption, control you appetite, and help boost your metabolism…”
·        “Slimmies’ patented ingredient is backed by clinical studies showing safe, consistent weight loss.”

As support for performance claims, DR-Ho’s submitted various studies relating to LuraLean, a form of glucomannan, and its effect on feelings of fullness and satiety. The marketer explained that glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber derived from the konjac root. These studies demonstrated that participants who consumed LuraLean prior to meals were able to achieve greater weight loss than while on a control treatment. Other studies submitted showed that LuraLean effectively reduced glucose levels.

Regarding the claim that Slimmies can absorb fat, DR-Ho’s informed ERSP that it will modify the language to more accurately reflect LuraLean’s effect on metabolic activity.

ERSP noted in its decision that the marketer had made a concerted effort to limit claims to appetite suppression and caloric absorption while clearly noting the clinical evidence is applicable to the active ingredient LuraLean, rather than Slimmies itself.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it …greatly appreciates the opportunity to participate in the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program and is pleased that ERSP determined that scientific evidence substantiated its core marketing claims that the studies on the key ingredient in the Slimmies - LuraLean - helps reduce appetite and assists in weight loss.”