BBB National Programs Archive

ERSP Finds Direct Entertainment Can Support Certain Claims For Ab Circle Pro

New York, NY – Nov. 16, 2009 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that Direct Entertainment Media Group, Inc., provided a reasonable basis for certain general performance claims, but did not adequately support unqualified product superiority claims in advertising for the Ab Circle Pro exercise machine. The marketer’s advertising came to ERSP’s attention pursuant to an anonymous challenge.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum, is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) with policy oversight by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC).

ERSP examined claims in online advertising that included:

• “You will lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks…and takes just 3 minutes a day”
• “Just three minutes a day”
• “Burns fat in just three minutes”
• “I lost 80 lbs and was just crowned Miss Bikini Diva, all thanks to the Ab Circle Pro”
• “Fastest and easiest way to have washboard abs”
• “Firing your core like no other machine has done”
• “Ab Circle is faster than anything else on the market”
• “Is like a treadmill for your abs”

At the outset, the marketer asserted that its infomercial had been revised and that certain claims raised by the challenger had been modified to include disclosures indicating that “a reduced calorie diet and regular aerobic exercise” contributed to the atypical (“Results not typical”) weight loss results attested to by consumers in the advertising.

Following its review of the evidence, ERSP determined that the marketer could support certain non-comparative claims for the product, but recommended the marketer modify claims that made a direct comparison between the results obtained by use of the Ab Circle as compared to other exercise-equipment products.

ERSP recommended the marketer modify its “3 minutes a day” claims, given the absence of evidence to support such claims.

ERSP recommended the marketer modify or discontinue a testimonial and “before” and “after” depictions of Jennifer Nicole Lee to avoid consumer confusion.

ERSP noted in its decision that the testimonial at issue states Ms. Lee “lost 80 pounds and was just crowned Miss Bikini Diva all thanks to the Ab Circle Pro,” when, as the challenger noted, Ms. Lee won the Miss Bikini Diva title in 2005, when the Ab Circle Pro was not on the market, and again in 2008.

However, ERSP concluded that the marketer provided a reasonable basis for the claim that “You will lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks…and it takes just 3 minutes per day” because that claim specifically cited money-back guarantee and use of the product along with a restricted calorie diet.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said it is “disappointed that ERSP did not give more deference to the opinion of DEMG’s expert …,” but noted that it will “defer to ERSP’s decision and will modify its current advertising in response to ERSP’s concerns.”