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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The ERSP Copy Review - A New ERSP Service!

The Copy Review Service offers marketers the opportunity to have ERSP, a third-party self-regulatory organization, review print, broadcast, radio, and online advertising. In a Copy Review, ERSP will:
  • Review primary and core advertising claims, highlighting potential self-regulatory issues, and adhering to self–regulatory best practices and guidance provided by the appropriate regulatory authority.
  • Provide general, non-binding recommendations limited only to the specific advertising that is reviewed by ERSP. For example, ERSP’s analysis of a long form (e.g., 30 minute) broadcast advertisement may not be similarly applied to a short form (e.g., 120 second) advertisement for the same product because of the different context in which the claims may be presented.
  • Suggest what level of substantiation may be needed based upon the claims presented by the marketer and the context in which the core claims are disseminated.
Include follow-up dialogue with ERSP staff regarding the advertising.

The Copy Review Service is confidential, voluntary, non-evidentiary, non-binding and does not constitute legal advice. Please note:

  • An ERSP Copy Review that does not result in a recommendation that claims be discontinued or modified will not assure the marketer that some other action, filing or adverse finding will not occur in another regulatory or self-regulatory forum (i.e., such as the FTC or the National Advertising Division). Participation shall not be construed or represented as an endorsement or approval by ERSP, ERA, ASRC, or CBBB of a company, product or service.
  • Participation in the ERSP Program does not include an evaluation of the evidence that a marketer is or may be relying on to support any claims made in its advertising. Participants will not be required to submit evidence to substantiate core advertising claims as part of this review process.
Fees for the service vary and are dependent upon the medium of dissemination and the length of the advertisement(s).

For any questions, including ERSP Copy Review information and pricing, please contact Jessica Grodzki at jgrodzki@ersp.bbb.org.

Friday, June 6, 2014

ERSP Recommends Adams Publishing Group Modify Certain Claims for Affiliate-Marketing Program; Company Agrees to Do So

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Adams Publishing Group modify or discontinue certain claims for the Jeff Adams Real Estate Investing Expert 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, Inc. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP through an anonymous competitor challenge.

ERSP reviewed online advertising claims for the affiliate marketing, real estate investing program, including:
  • “… teaches you how to make money with real estate investing – buying and selling foreclosures and distressed properties and doing it with no money and no credit”
  • “… will help you achieve financial freedom faster than ever!”
  • “Over the past 16 years, Jeff has invested in both residential and commercial properties in a variety of different states and his real estate businesses have brought in more than $50 million”
  • “… enabled me to increase my income in ways I never thought possible. No more hype. No more confusion. Thanks so much for your help, Jeff. I didn't think it could really be done, especially not as fast as Jeff said." [Don Sanders]
The advertising consists of the marketer’s website (www.jeffadams.com), which explains that Jeff Adams is a real estate investment expert who can teach customers how to make money with real estate investing - buying and selling foreclosures and distressed properties - through courses and training.

Preliminarily, ERSP noted the marketer’s willingness to cooperate and participate in the self-regulatory process.

ERSP was concerned with representations that consumers are able to make money with no money or no credit. ERSP noted that the marketer pledged to modify the website to qualify such claims to indicate that certain strategies do not require using any of the student’s money. ERSP also acknowledged the marketer’s commitment to indicate whether certain material terms and conditions of particular lenders may apply.

ERSP also was concerned with the implication that consumers may earn money quickly and easily and recommended that such performance claims be discontinued.
ERSP noted that the marketer did not provide any evidence regarding the amount of money that consumers have earned and that the majority of earnings claims attest to Jeff Adams’ personal success in real estate investing.

The marketer informed ERSP that with regard to www.jeffadams.com, it will further modify its website to remove all earnings claims, and will refrain from making earnings claims in future advertising that is developed. ERSP further recommended that the marketer qualify the claims with a clear and conspicuous disclosure indicating that Jeff Adam’s success was atypical, by disclosing what the typical result would be.

Finally, ERSP does not dispute that the success stories depicted in the advertising are from real people with actual success stories. However, ERSP recommended that they be accompanied by clear and conspicuous language qualifying the claims with disclosures of typicality. ERSP also recommended the marketer revisit testimonial claims for any potential implied earnings messages within the context of the testimonials themselves.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said that it “agrees with ERSP's recommendations, has implemented those recommendations and will continue to comply with all federal, state and local laws, regulations, industry guidelines and best industry practices.”