A prospective dieter might be pretty excited to hear on a television commercial or print ad that "Christine H. lost 223 lbs. on Nutrisystem," but deflated when the fine print explains that result is not typical.
That disclosure–required by the Federal Trade Commission's Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising–is necessary even when using emerging social networking platforms, according to a June 29 case report from the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus that dealt with Nutrisystem Inc.'s "Real Customers. Real Success" Pinterest board.
Section 255.2(b) of the FTC's guidelines requires that disclosures be placed "clearly and conspicuously" when an endorser's experience with a product is not "representative of what consumers will generally achieve."
The NAD contacted Nutrisystem to note that it had failed to provide the disclosures on its Pinterest board.
Nutrisystem agreed. Now, each dieter's "pin" includes the explanation: "Results not typical. On Nutrisystem®, you can expect to lose at least 1-2 lbs per week. Individuals are remunerated. Weight lost on prior Nutrisystem® program."
Allison Fitzpatrick, a partner with Davis & Gilbert LLP's New York office, told BNA Aug. 3 that companies have routinely misunderstood their legal requirements on social media platforms. "When it comes to Pinterest and social media in general, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding that the same advertising laws that apply to other media do not apply to Pinterest and other social networking sites. That is not the case, as the advertising laws apply to all claims regardless of the media."
Copyright 2012, The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.
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