Just as the new year is settling in with a lot of people hoping to loose weight as a new year's resolution, 4 Diet Pill Marketers have reached a multi-million dollar settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The makers of Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, TrimSpa, and One-A-Day WeightSmart settled for a combine total of $25 million for Allegations of Deceptive Marketing. It should be noted that the four companies have not admitted to any wrong doing by settling. They just felt it was cheaper to settle out of court with the FTC than to keep pursuing the legal battle.
A little over a week ago I wrote about the states' attorney generals taking action against deceptive marketing practices on the internet, now we have another case of deceptive marketing brought by the FTC. The FTC keeps a keen eye on the weight loss/vitamin/energy supplement market, so if you are selling Hoodia pills through deceptive means, the FTC might be breathing down your neck, next.
I highlight this industry in my presentation at SES on the Search & Regulated industry panel. I bring up the vitamin/supplement area and the diet area as separate entities. Of the two, diet by far gets the harder look at. The FTC is quite serious about cracking down on diet pill manufacturers' deceptive marketing practice, so much so they have even set up their own "mini" website to help shoppers/dieters be able to pinpoint just what is a false or deceptive claim. The website is aptly named "Red Flag".
There was no mention in the article of any of the marketing (internet or otherwise) companies nor webmasters involved with these products being fined in with this. Nothing can be assumed from that however, other than the fines were directly to the producers of the pills. It is possible for the FTC to bring suit against the marketing agencies and webmasters - if they feel the companies knowingly helped to perpetuate the deceptive marketing.
So, if you as a marketer for a client that is selling any type of product that is making claims that might seem a little outrageous, consult legal counsel before proceeding - it just might save you the headache of dealing with the FTC, when they think the claims are outrageous, too.