BBB National Programs Archive
ERSP Recommends Liquid HGC Diet Modify, Discontinue Claims In Electronic Advertising, Including Twitter, Facebook Ads
New York, NY – July 27, 2010 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has recommended that Liquid HCG Diet, LLC discontinue certain weight-loss claims, including claims disseminated through Facebook and Twitter, and modify consumer testimonials. The marketer’s advertising came to ERSP’s attention pursuant to ERSP’s ongoing monitoring efforts.
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:
- “Lose around a pound a day”
- “Lose 30lbs. in a month, it’s easy and quick!”
- “Lasting results! Keep it off!”
- Twitter claim “Becky and husband lost 14lbs in 2 days!”; website claim “Today is my second day on P2 and I lost 5.9lbs. and my husband lost 8lbs.!”
ERSP noted in its decision that, on the official Liquid HCG Diet website, the marketer describes its product as “Homeopathic HCG used in conjunction with a strict low calorie diet.”
The marketer does not detail the homeopathic formulation on the Website and did not reveal the formula to ERSP during the self-regulatory review.
Without a description of the formula, the decision noted, it was “impossible for ERSP to ascertain what the Liquid HCG Diet drops contributed to the weight loss achieved by product users.”
ERSP further noted that it appears adherence to a very low-calorie diet is pivotal to the success of the Liquid HCG Diet – material information that should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed to consumers.
ERSP recommended the marketer discontinue the claim related to permanent weight loss, which could lead consumers to believe that they would continue to lose weight without using the product or without limiting caloric intake.
Further, ERSP called the marketer’s attention to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Red Flag Bogus Weight Loss Claims Guide,” which cautions consumers to be wary of advertising containing statements indicating that the product can “Safely enable consumers to lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks.”
ERSP determined that weight-loss results attested to on individual Twitter pages may be considered advertising messages for the purposes of communicating general expectations about the product. For example, ERSP identified several instances where individual weight-loss results announced on Twitter pages included a link to the product Website. ERSP recommended that the marketer modify consumer testimonials to comply with the FTC’s revised Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
The Guides state in part that, “if the advertiser does not have substantiation that the endorser’s experience is representative of what consumers will generally achieve, the advertisement should clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected performance in the depicted circumstances, and the advertiser must possess and rely on adequate substantiation for that representation.”
The company, in its marketer’s statement, said “We appreciate the efforts and insight provided by ESRP to our company and, as a result, we have made positive corrective changes to some of our early website marketing statements.”