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Monday, May 21, 2012

ERSP Reviews Advertising for HCG Triumph; Recommends Marketer Modify, Discontinue Claims

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Triu Naturals, LLC modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s HCG Triumph.

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 pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online advertising for HCG Triumph, and identified several claims for review, including:
  • “Lose up to 2 pounds per day.
  • “Incredibly fast and safe weight loss.”  
  • “Just as effective in the oral form as the injections.” 
  • “You are able to keep the weight off.”
  • “I lost 25 lbs in 21 days!”
  • “I have lost 10 pounds in less than 2 weeks!”
During the pendency of the inquiry, the marketer informed ERSP that it made several changes to its website and voluntarily removed all of the claims at issue. However, ERSP remained concerned about the core message (i.e., HCG Triumph will contribute to weight loss in a way that is separate and apart from the accompanying low-calorie diet) communicated in the advertising.

While ERSP confirmed that two of the testimonials were removed, the marketer continues to disseminate a testimonials section on its website. The “Testimonials” page does not include a disclosure indicating that the weight loss is atypical or the generally expected results from use of HCG Triumph. The marketer informed ERSP that it would add a disclosure, but ERSP noted the marketer did not provide any substantive evidence that would support the weight loss results depicted and advertised.

Several of the testimonials do not make a distinction between the homeopathic HCG drops and the low calorie diet plan. ERSP determined that the advertising continues to communicate that the HCG drops significantly contribute to weight loss in a way that is separate from the low calorie diet. As a result, ERSP recommended the marketer discontinue consumer testimonials as currently presented on its website.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “We have made some corrective changes to our website and are continuing to give serious consideration to your Final Decision … We are pleased to have participated in ERSP’s self-regulatory process.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

ERSP Refers Advertising from Venus America to FTC for Review; Marketer Fails to Provide Sufficient Evidence for Claims

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) will refer direct-response advertising from Venus America Corp., maker of Venus Mother of Pearl Powder Cream, to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), following the marketer’s failure to provide sufficient evidence to support its performance claims.

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 through an anonymous competitive complaint.

Claims at issue in the initial inquiry included:
  • Reducing blemishes, scars, wrinkles, stretch marks, acne, pimples, blackheads, crow’s feet, expression lines, irritation after shaving.”
  • The only one that has maintained itself within the market with results; tested and proven.”
  • A 100% natural formula with all the regenerative power of its principle ingredient – mother of pearl powder, extracted from the bottom of the sea and enriched with vitamins to make your skin look smoother, hydrated and healthy.”
  • Venus Mother of Pearl Powder Cream from Veracruz Mexico possesses an antimicrobial agent attacking and preventing the growth of bacteria on the skin. Being a natural product it causes no harmful side effects.”
  • “It reduces the wrinkles in very few weeks.”
Following the marketer’s failure to submit to ERSP any evidence that would demonstrate a reasonable basis for its claims, ERSP recommended that the marketer discontinue the claims at issue. ERSP then forwarded its recommendations to the advertiser and requested a Marketer’s Statement as to whether the company would agree to discontinue the claims.

The marketer did not respond to ERSP’s and after expiration of the five (5) day time period provided by the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program Policy & Procedures, ERSP referred the matter to the FTC for further review.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ERA Government Affairs Fly-In 2012

On Tuesday, May 8, Peter and Lee Peeler (President and CEO, Advertising Self-Regulatory Council) traveled to Washington, D.C. for the annual ERA Government Affairs Fly-In.

Lee, along with Lois Greisman (FTC), presented on issues that the regulators are focused on in the electronic retailing space. They also discussed the importance and role of the industry's self-regulatory initiatives.

Lois Greisman, Head of the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Marketing Practices in the Bureau of Consumer Protection
While there, Peter had the opportunity to attend informative panels on trends in electronic retailing and advertising and network with leaders in the direct-response industry.