BBB National Programs Archive

MZ Direct Participates In ERSP Self-Regulatory Forum

New York, NY – March 7, 2006 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) announced that MZ Direct Response LLC (MZ Direct), marketers of the Velform Sauna Belt, has provided adequate support for one general efficacy claim. ERSP recommended the company modify or discontinue express performance, immediacy, testimonial, establishment, and comparative claims. The marketer’s advertising was reviewed pursuant to anonymous consumer and competitive complaints.

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 reviewed several core claims that included:

  • “Immediately see real results with no effort.” “Lose an in inch in fifty minutes.”
  • “In specifically targeted areas, we can make someone lose inches and pounds and sculpt their body as they would like it to be sculpted.”
  • “I lost two inches in an hour,…didn’t have to do a workout or anything at all.”
  • “In two weeks…I lost 7 pounds.”
  • “[in the studies] they lost approximately one inch in 50 minutes.” “Easiest, fastest, most effective way to sweat out the weight in your most problematic areas of your body.”

The marketer has provided evidence indicating that Velform Sauna Belt does provide a certain degree of efficacy after 50 minutes and ERSP determined that claims in this limited (i.e., “instant”) context are not inaccurate. However, ERSP concluded that any performance claims characterized in an “instant” or “immediate” context that are inconsistent with results obtained after 50 minutes of product usage should be either adequately qualified or discontinued. ERSP also recommended that the marketer refrain from suggesting that consumers will lose meaningful (i.e., “real results”) weight with “no effort.”

ERSP determined that the marketer’s claims to “Lose an inch in 50 minutes” as well as the on- camera demonstrations of people losing more weight and inches in 50 minutes should be discontinued or modified to more accurately reflect the test data submitted by the marketer. Moreover, any categorical assertion with respect to the amount weight lost or inches lost on any part of the body or that consumers can “target any area you want” should be removed from future advertising.

ERSP further determined that the marketer should  modify its computer generated “slim-down” depiction to accurately reflect the proof in its possession and not overstate the amount and areas of weight/inches loss that can be realized by use of the Velform Sauna Belt.

With respect to consumer testimonials, any claims made by consumers with respect to weight loss in areas of the body other than the stomach must be discontinued until supported by reliable, independent evidence and consumer testimonials limiting weight/inches loss to the stomach should consistently be accompanied by an atypicality disclosure.

Finally, ERSP did not object to references to “test results” and “studies in Europe” as proof for accurate claims of product performance so long as the marketer properly presents the test results in the limited and qualified context.

In response to ERSP’s findings, MZ Direct stated while it “…is gratified by ERSP’s finding that the Company’s Velform Sauna Belt does provide efficacy after 50 minutes, it is disappointed in ERSP’s decision that other statements in the infomercial should be modified or discontinued… Notwithstanding this fact, the Company will revise its advertising for the Velform Sauna Belt to comply with the ERSP decision.”