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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ERSP Recommends PartnerWithPaul.com, LLC Modify Certain Claims for Affiliate-Marketing Program; Company Agrees to Do So

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that PartnerWithPaul.com, LLC modify or discontinue certain claims for the company’s Partner With Paul affiliate marketing program.

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 through ERSP’s ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for the affiliate marketing, wealth-creation product, including:

  • “Making money online can be easier than you think when you know how ...”
  • “I work from home and pocket more money in a month than most people make all year”
  • “More importantly, I’ll PROVE that making a million dollars online is possible with the program I am about to show you.”
  • “I'm looking for a relatively small group of people who want to make lots of money online, and the whole purpose of this website is really just to help me find these people.”
  • “$5200 in first month” [Tanya D.]
Partner with Paul is an affiliate marketing program that purports to describe a marketing program to become a reseller for a multi-level-marketing program. The advertising consists of the marketer’s website (www.partnerwithpaul.com), which describes how to make money online and invites customers to create an account with Partner With Paul in order to receive a special report titled “The Only ‘Secret’ to Making Money Online.”

ERSP disagreed that the website describes a marketing program to become a reseller for a multi-level marketing program. Indeed, nowhere on the homepage of the website does the marketer describe that customers will become MLM resellers. This is material information that must be prominently and conspicuously disclosed to consumers.

ERSP remained concerned with representations regarding the implication that product users will be able to achieve the success communicated in the advertising easily, with little or no skill, and without a lot of free time. ERSP determined that one message reasonably communicated in the advertising was that consumers can earn money quickly and easily, despite the removal of the word “easy.” ERSP therefore recommended the marketer discontinue such performance claims.

ERSP also noted that the marketer did not provide any evidence regarding the amount of money that purchasers of Partner With Paul have earned using the product. ERSP acknowledged the marketer’s pledge to remove the average earnings grid and testimonial representations. ERSP additionally noted the marketer’s attempt to qualify the claims made on the homepage. However, ERSP remained concerned that the language was neither “clear and conspicuous,” nor was it located in close proximity to the claims. ERSP additionally noted that, as of today, the claim “My best friend was really mad at me…sitting in my home office, deeply in debt, he begged me to show him how I am averaging $136,808 a month online” has not been removed, despite the marketer’s pledge in the alternative. Therefore, ERSP recommended that Partner With Paul discontinue any and all earnings claims until it can support such income statements with reliable consumer data.

Finally, ERSP recognized the marketer’s commitment to removing testimonials that reference earnings, profits, and results.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said that it would follow ERSP’s suggestions and that it “…is in process of substantially revising our advertising and continue to improve our consumer messaging to be as truthful, accurate, clear and conspicuous as possible.”

Friday, April 11, 2014

ERSP Recommends Theradome Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims for Hair-Loss Laser

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that  Theradome, Inc., modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for Theradome, a product designed to treat hair loss through the use of a low-level laser.

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 through an anonymous competitive challenge.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for Theradome, including:
  • “The first and only FDA cleared clinical strength laser treatment that has proven triple action”
  • “Proven to grow hair in 98 percent of users”
  • “In our clinical studies ALL participants benefited from the Theradome™ and experienced one or more of the following: 1) Thicker and more manageable hair, 2) Reduced hair loss, and 3) New hair growth after three to four months. We know it works, that's why we guarantee that you'll see great results.”
  • ”100% Proven. 100% Easy. 100% Safe.”
  • “The world’s most powerful in-home solution to treat hair loss."
As support for the performance and establishment claims at issue, the marketer submitted testing on low-level laser therapy (LLLT), the main technology behind Theradome. The marketer also provided ERSP with materials concerning its 510(k) premarket notification, which established its equivalence to a predicate device.

Following its review of the evidence in the case record, ERSP did not object to some general performance claims, but determined that the marketer did not provide adequate support for claims that Theradome will help consumers “… experience thicker and longer hair, a healthier scalp with reduced scalp itching and inflammation. Plus those with curly hair will see enhanced curl retention. After 52 treatments (20 minutes per treatment), the hairs on the top of the head and the vertex will start filling in. After 100 treatments (20 minutes per treatment), fuller and thicker hair will result with continued use.”

ERSP recommended that the marketer clearly and conspicuously disclose that Theradome is specifically intended for “females with female pattern hair loss on the Ludwig and Savin Hair Loss Scale I-II, Fitzpatrick Skin Types I to IV” as it is necessary information for consumers.

ERSP found insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the FDA had “approved” the product “to increase the diameter of hair up to 200%” – a message that ERSP determined could by reasonably understood by consumers – and recommended the marketer discontinue this claim.

Further, ERSP found that studies presented by the advertiser did not meet general standards of competent and reliable evidence and found that the marketer did not support the comparative claims at issue.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “We will continue to make appropriate modifications to advertising for Theradome LH80 PRO in accordance with ERSP's recommendations … Theradome Inc. 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 the Theradome LH80 PRO medical device.”