DSSRC Administrative Closure #73
DSSRC contacted a direct selling company regarding three Facebook posts disseminated by its salesforce members as well as two product performance claims, one business opportunity claim and nine consumer testimonials located on the Company’s website The subject claims and social media posts came to DSSRC’s attention pursuant to its independent monitoring of advertising in the direct selling marketplace. Specifically, DSSRC expressed concern that the claims (including those representations communicated in consumer testimonials) and social media posts communicated the message that the Company’s products can protect consumers against a number of health-related conditions including the COVID-19 virus.
Two of the social media posts referenced the product’s efficacy to protect against the COVID-19 virus. The third social media post claimed that the product was effective against a number of health-related conditions including, but not limited to, high cholesterol; asthma; cancer; HIV and influenza. In response to the inquiry, the Company informed DSSRC that the social media posts at issue originated from Company salesforce members in three different African countries. The Company contacted the salesforce members responsible for the posts as well as Facebook regarding the inappropriate content of the posts and noted that the claims were contrary to Company policy. Shortly thereafter, all three social media posts were disabled.
The first product performance claims on the company website pertained to the efficacy of the product to enhance: mental focus; weight management; digestive and gastrointestinal health; immune system health; eye health; bone and joint health; blood pressure health and blood sugar health. The second product performance claim was made on a video located on the Company website and stated that the Company’s product protects against premature cellular death and chronic cellular inflammation. The Company removed the claims immediately after being contacted by DSSRC.
The business opportunity claim on the Company website promised “financial freedom” to incoming salesforce members and stated that potential salesforce members can “… make money from day one” and “create a significant residual income.” The Company removed the claim immediately after receipt of DSSRC’s opening letter.
The nine consumer testimonials featured on the Company website that were the subject of the DSSRC inquiry all described atypical results from serious health conditions after using the product including extreme weight-loss, decreased blood pressure, recovery from cancer surgery, balancing of blood sugar levels, decreased cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels. The Company removed all of the testimonials in response to the DSSRC inquiry.
DSSRC noted that the removal of the social media posts and the claims and consumer testimonials on the Company website was necessary and appropriate. There is currently no effective treatment available that can prevent, treat, alleviate, or cure COVID-19 and its symptoms. Similarly, a direct selling company must be prepared to support any health-related claims with competent and reliable scientific evidence regardless of whether the claim is disseminated by the Company itself or by virtue of testimonial statements made by consumers. With respect to business opportunity claim at issue, DSSRC has cautioned direct sellers from using the term “financial freedom” as it potentially communicates to consumers that they have the ability to earn income well beyond the amount that would generally expected by the typical salesforce member.
Based upon the Company’s prompt removal of all of the claims at issue including the disabling of social media posts that originated outside of the United States, DSSRC administratively closed its inquiry pursuant to section 2(II)(6) of the DSSRC Procedures.
(closed on 9/16/2020)