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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.”

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