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Thursday, September 25, 2014

ERSP Reviews Advertising for ‘Androfen,’ Recommends Marketer Modify or Discontinue Certain Claims; Find Marketer Can Support Certain Claims

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Androfen, LLC, modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for Androfen, a dietary supplement intended to increase testosterone levels. ERSP also determined that certain claims were supported by the advertiser’s evidence.

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 claims for Androfen, including:

  • “Reduce body fat”
  • “Increase muscle”
  • “Accelerate sex drive”
  • “…reduce body fat by over 200%”
  • “In a university clinical study, men taking the active ingredient in Androfen significantly increased their testosterone in only 12 hours and reduced their body fat by over 200% versus placebo."
As support for the performance and establishment claims at issue, the marketer submitted several studies on Androfen’s key ingredient, fenugreek (T. foenum-graecum).

Following its review of the evidence in the case record, ERSP determined that the marketer provided a reasonable basis for claims that Androfen will improve libido and sexual performance and promote fat loss.

However, ERSP found that the evidence did not support establishment claims that fenugreek will help to increase muscle and maximize muscle mass. ERSP recommended that these claims be discontinued in the context in which they were presented. ERSP also recommended that the marketer discontinue the claim that “…in clinical studies, it was shown that 85% of test subjects self-reported an improvement in sexual desire.”

ERSP determined that the quantified claim that Androfen will “reduce body fat by over 200%”, as it appears in the online advertising, could be reasonably interpreted by consumers to mean that users will experience a 200% fat loss from baseline. After reviewing the evidence, ERSP recommended that this claim be discontinued in its advertised context.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “Androfen, LLC has great respect for the role of ERSP in seeking to ensure truth and consumer confidence in direct response advertising. It welcomes and appreciates ERSP’s thorough review of advertising for its testosterone boosting product, Androfen. Despite Androfen, LLC’s respectful disagreements with ERSP on these aspects of the muscle mass and body fat claims for Androfen, it nevertheless certainly respects ERSP’s authority and views and therefore will give serious consideration to the recommendations contained in its report.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ERSP Refers Advertising for Nick Vertucci Real Estate Academy to FTC After Marketer Declines to Participate in ERSP Inquiry

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) will refer direct response advertising for Nick Vertucci Real Estate Academy to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after the marketer, The Nick Vertucci Companies, Inc., respectfully declined to participate in an ERSP inquiry.

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 pursuant to an anonymous competitor challenge.

Claims at issue in the initial inquiry included:

  • Over the last two years, his team has flipped over 800 properties across the country. They're coming to your city offering free training & information on how to make serious money in today's real estate market!”
  • “Will you let me turn YOU into my next Real Estate Millionaire?”
  • “Interested in earning extra money in real estate? Want to learn how to make $30,000 in 30 days? Come to Nick's upcoming FREE real estate training workshop in a nearby city and learn how to get in, get out, and GET PAID!”
  • “…make $10,000 to $40,000 per deal in your spare time without using any of your own money.”
  • “James & Minke: 3 Properties Purchased; $33,112 Net Cash Flow 22% in Appreciation”

Upon receipt of the Basis of Inquiry, the marketer informed ERSP that it was the named defendant in litigation in the United States District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division. The marketer noted that, pursuant to Section 2.2 (C)(ii)(b) of the ERSP Policy & Procedures, it would not participate in the self-regulatory forum, because it anticipates that the pending lawsuit will involve the same advertising and claims that are the subject of the ERSP inquiry.

The marketer also indicated that, while it would be unable to comply with ERSP’s request for additional information, it is voluntarily undertaking a comprehensive review of its entire advertising and marketing materials.

ERSP noted in its decision that while it recognized the marketer’s position regarding the pending litigation, there has been no confirmation that pending involves the same advertising and the same claims at issue in this self-regulatory inquiry.

Accordingly, based upon the marketer’s written representation that it would not participate in this self-regulatory inquiry, ERSP is referring the matter to the FTC pursuant to Section 2.6 (B) of the ERSP Policy & Procedures.