Case #97-2022: Administrative Closure – Unicity International, Inc.
BBB NATIONAL PROGRAMS
The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council
Case Number 97-2022: Administrative Closure – Unicity International, Inc.
I. Company Description
Unicity International, Inc. (“Unicity” or the “Company”) is a multi-level marketing company headquartered in Orem, Utah and founded in 1986. The Company markets nutritional and personal care products and operates in approximately 30 countries, including the United States, Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Venezuela.
II. Basis of Inquiry
The Direct Selling Self-Regulatory Council (“DSSRC”) is a national advertising self-regulation program administered by BBB National Programs. This inquiry was commenced by DSSRC pursuant to its ongoing independent monitoring of advertising and marketing claims in the direct selling industry.
This inquiry included six product performance claims and one earnings claim that were disseminated by Company salesforce members. The representative claims, several of which originated outside of the United States, formed the basis of this inquiry and were communicated on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Those claims are set forth below.
Product Performance Claims:
- “My mum replaced Lipitol for cholesterol and only use Bios Life C”
- Before & After video of weightloss; list of health claims including “blood pressure; diabetes cholesterol”
- “May reduce intra-ocular pressure for glaucoma patients and delay macular degeneration; Helps lower blood pressure; Prevents damage from Ischemia of the brain and the heart; It plays a role in preventing some arrhythmias; Improves sleep for asthmatics; Improves sleep and benefits sufferers of Tinnitus; Benefits sufferers of Depression and Bi-polar”
- “If you know anyone struggling with Diabetes, Cholesterol, and/or High Blood Pressure...you hold some responsibility to invite them to this call...you may save someone's life.”
- “helps you overcome…frequent infections (urinary tract, bronchitis, respiratory, etc.); inflammation; digestive problems, stomach ulcers and leaky gut syndrome; diabetes…skin disorders; liver disease; tumor growth and cancer; viruses, including the flu, HIV / Aids or hepatitis; hearth disease, hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol…”
- “I went From 👇🏾 to this 35 lbs loss in 6-months. I'm 61 y/o but I feel like I'm 31. I'm on zero medication, no high blood pressure, low cholesterol, triglycerides dropped￼ over 40 points & No pre-diabetes. Best of all NO DIETING!!!”
- “High Blood Pressure Medications have side-effects....go for All Natural and Scientific way of reducing High BP in just 3 Months by doing a proper detox and then using Bios Life Nutraceuticals !”
- “protects your nervous system; reduces risk and slows the growth of cancer; reduces damage from Type 2 Diabetes..etc”
- “Helps with mental health like anxiety, depression, postnatal…”
- “In this era of corona, prevent yourself and your family from the infection with Unicity’s Corona Shield
- “Diabetes have you feeling down? Try the feel great pack and you will FEEL Great Again! Many people are reducing or getting off of their Diabetic, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol medications using the Feel Great program!”
- “Not only it helps to convert the food I ate to energy, and that helps me to loss more fats but it also helps to maintain cholesterol level and care for my heart! I took this even when I am preggy and it helps me from suffering gestational diabetes.”
- “Do you have diabetes?... I have the solution for you with UNICITY BALANCE”
- “Matcha tea is linked to a number of health benefits including prevention of: Heart disease; Cancer; Type 2 diabetes; Weight loss”
- “eczema, psoriasis”
- “Unimate is a game changer! It changed my mood to be a happy one, it changed my anxiety to calmness and the best of it all, I can control myself from getting angry with my children to being happy with them.”
- “Are YOU getting enough Vitamin C?...This is especially crucial during times of pandemic.”
- “help you lose the weight, feel great, help with blood pressure, lower blood and cholesterol levels…”
- “And one of them is to address the sugar level in my body also to bring to down the cholesterol digit too!”
- “Keep on having headaches and migraine? Feel bloated? Feel sickly? Having heat rashes? Pimples popping out? Eczema or any skin condition? Time to have this set for 1 month. It's Clearstart 30days with Chlorophyll! Time to get rid of the parasites, toxins, wind and cleanse the blood of our body!”
- “The perfect solution to Hemoglobin, arthritis, Thyroid, BP, Sugar, Obesity, Migraine and the right nutrition for children.”
- “How to Earn Extra Income With Unicity;” “That’s what Unicity is all about…an opportunity to make anything from extra money …make life-changing income…travel the world or be stay-at-home parent.”
III. Company’s Position
Unicity did not attempt to substantiate the claims at issue and, instead, worked diligently to effectuate the removal of the posts and to ensure that the salesforce members responsible for the posts understand the reason(s) that each is not acceptable to avoid future issues.
The Company noted that almost all of the posts were disseminated outside of the United States and that its efforts resulted in the removal of 18 of the 23 social media posts that were the subject of the inquiry.
Unicity advised DSSRC that to better monitor distributor communications and review company-produced materials, it recently added two new experienced full-time staffers to its Compliance Team, both of whom have worked reviewing promotional content of other direct sales companies.
Lastly, the Company informed DSSRC that it has suspended the accounts of the salesforce members that were unresponsive to the Company’s take-down requests.
DSSRC appreciated the good faith actions taken by Unicity to address its concerns. The Company was successful in removing almost 90% of the posts brought to its attention by DSSRC and adequately demonstrated that it made a bona fide effort to address DSSRC’s concerns with respect to the remaining posts. DSSRC determined that the Company’s actions were necessary and appropriate.
Product Performance Claims
As DSSRC has noted in previous inquiries, health-related claims must be supported by reliable and competent evidence demonstrating that the product can perform as claimed. The Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) standard of competent and reliable scientific evidence has been defined in FTC case law as "tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence based on the expertise of professionals in the relevant area, that has been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by persons qualified to do so, using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results."1
Three of the four individuals who were responsible for the remaining product performance claims live in Singapore and the other individual resides in India.2 After unsuccessfully attempting to contact the salesforce members, Unicity suspended all four of the accounts, an action that DSSRC agrees was warranted considering the egregiousness of the claims. The Company informed DSSRC that it requested user data from Facebook and reported the content of these posts to the social media platform for violating Unicity’s intellectual property rights.
DSSRC expressed its appreciation to the Company for being able to facilitate the removal of 18 of the 23 social media posts that communicated unsupported product performance claims.
B. Earnings Claim
The YouTube video which included the claims “How to Earn Extra Income With Unicity;” “That’s what Unicity is all about…an opportunity to make anything from extra money …make life-changing income…travel the world or be stay-at-home parent” was originally disseminated in 2015.3
As noted by DSSRC in section 6 of its Guidance for earnings Claims in the Direct Selling Industry, some words and phrases are prohibited when made to a general audience of prospective or current salesforce members. Such words and phrases include statements such as “quit your job,” “be set for life,” “make more money than you ever have imagined or thought possible,” “unlimited income,” “full-time income,” “replacement income,” “career-level income,” or any substantially similar statements or representations. Accordingly, DSSRC was concerned with references to “life changing income” and representations that the typical salesforce member could “travel the world” by virtue of its participation in the unicity business opportunity.
It was determined that the Company used its best (albeit, unsuccessful) efforts to address DSSRC’s concerns. Unicity informed DSSRC that salesforce members responsible for the video had their account terminated in 2019. Several members of the Company’s compliance team reported the video to YouTube for unauthorized content and although the video was disabled for a brief period of time, the platform has now made the video available to the public again.
DSSRC recognized that removing the social media posts that originated outside of the United States presents a significant challenge for the Company. As DSSRC has noted in previous self-regulatory inquiries, when a direct selling company is made aware of improper product (or income) claims that were made by an individual that was not within its geographical control or who was an active salesforce member when such claim was made but that has since become an inactive salesforce member of the company, DSSRC acknowledges that the direct selling company may not be able to require such salesforce members to remove a social media post. In that instance, DSSRC nonetheless recommends that the direct selling company make a bona fide good faith effort to have the improper claim removed.4
Here, it was determined that Unicity demonstrated that it made a bona fide, good faith effort to have the YouTube video removed.
DSSRC administratively closed the inquiry based upon Unicity’s good faith actions to remove 18 of the 23 social media posts at issue and made a good faith effort to have the remaining posts removed by attempting to contact the salesforce members responsible for the posts, suspending and/or terminating their accounts, and reporting the unauthorized content to Facebook and YouTube.
(Case #97-2022, closed on 12/16/22)
© 2022 BBB National Programs
 Vital Basics, Inc., C-4107 (Consent April 26, 2004); see also In Re Schering Corp., 118 F.T.C. 1030, 1123 (1994).