On Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 10:00 a.m., there will be a hearing in Congress titled “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products.” A live video feed of the webcast will be available here.
ERA has been informed that this hearing will focus on “weight-loss scams” and view it as a follow-up hearing to the FTC’s settlements with Sensa and Pure Green Coffee.
The witness list for this hearing has not yet been published. However, we have learned that the Committee has contacted several companies in the broadcasting, Internet, and publishing space to inquire about their practices in screening misleading advertising.
In addition, Lee Peeler, CEO of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC), will testify. The ASRC is the parent organization of ERA’s self-regulatory program, ERSP. His testimony will focus on ERA’s self-regulatory efforts through ERSP to obtain modification or discontinuance of unsubstantiated weight-loss claims. He will also discuss trends in weight-loss advertising such as affiliate marketing and use of misleading online “product review” pages. We also understand that Dr. Oz will be a witness tied to his promotion of Pure Green Coffee.
Earlier this year, the FTC updated its guidance for Media Outlets on Spotting False Weight-Loss Claims in Advertising. We believe it is important for you to review this new guidance, as well as the FTC’s Gut Check Reference Guide.
There is a strong probability that increased public scrutiny and press coverage will follow this hearing. In the near term, this activity could create a chilling effect for clearance of weight-loss advertising.
Please contact Bill McClellan at email@example.com if you experience any clearance-related issues with your advertising. As needed, ERA stands ready to engage with media companies (broadcast, online, and publishers) as appropriate.
ERA will continue to work this issue aggressively, and alert you to any material or substantive developments as they unfold.
President and CEO
Electronic Retailing Association