BBB National Programs Archive
ERSP Reviews Claims For Innovative Media
New York, NY – Dec. 3, 2008 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that Innovative Media Inc., has provided a reasonable basis for certain advertising claims made for the company’s PhotoBlocker Spray. However, ERSP has recommended the marketer discontinue certain performance claims and modify consumer testimonials and clarify information about the legal use of the product in certain states..
This is ERSP’s first decision involving advertising appearing in “Second Life,” an internet-based, 3D virtual community that allows users to explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade items and services with one another.
The advertising came to the attention of ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum, through ERSP’s ongoing monitoring program. ERSP is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) with policy oversight by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC).
PhotoBlocker Spray is marketed as a product that can be applied to automobile license plates, rendering the plates illegible to traffic and “red light” cameras. The product is marketed to independent dealers.
At the time of ERPS’s initial inquiry, Innovative Media informed ERSP that the advertising at issue was the subject of a settlement order from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As such, the marketer requested that ERSP administratively close the matter pursuant to section ERSP Policy and Procedures.
Despite the settlement agreement entered into between the marketer and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, ERSP retained jurisdiction and noted that the the terms of the marketer’s settlement are limited to advertising and marketing materials disseminated within the borders of Pennsylvania.
Claims at issue in the ERSP inquiry included:
- • “Avoid costly unjust traffic tickets!”
- • “Make your car invisible to traffic cameras”; “This spray will make your car invisible to traffic cameras.”
- • “It will hide your license plate from red light cameras”
- • “Red light cameras are about revenue, not safety!”
- • “Become a dealer and earn 300% + ROI”
- • “I made over $21,000 in less than half a day!”
Following its review of the evidence, ERSP determined that the marketer did not provide a reasonable basis for claims that the PhotoBlocker will “Make your car invisible to traffic cameras” and “… hide your license plate from red light cameras.”
ERSP recommended that the marketer discontinue these claims in their current advertised context (including the billboard advertisement in Second Life).
ERSP determined that the claims pertaining to “unjust traffic tickets” and red light cameras being about “revenue and not safety” would be reasonably interpreted by consumers as strictly the opinion of the marketer and readily distinguishable by consumers from provable claims.
Further, ERSP determined that it would be reasonable for consumers to believe that they are purchasing a product that may be legally used in their respective states in light of the fact that the marketer’s Website provides order information for its product to forty-nine states (excluding Pennsylvania).
ERSP recommended that the marketer provide more detailed and conspicuously placed information regarding the localities in which the product may or may not be used.
ERSP found that the marketer provided a reasonable basis for earnings claims made in the advertising. However, ERSP recommended that the marketer modify the return on investment (ROI) claim “Become a dealer and earn 300% + ROI” to assure that potential dealers understand they must purchase a certain amount of the product to realize that particular return on investment. Further, ERSP recommended that the marketer modify its consumer testimonials to incorporate the typicality requirement provided in the FTC’s Guide on Endorsements and Testimonials.
The company, in its marketer’s statement, said it strongly supports ERSP and “welcomes the opportunity to participate in the process and improve the availability and accuracy of all information disseminated in the marketplace.”
The company said it “pledges to make the changes as discussed, and consider ERSP’s comments in all future advertising,”