The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent letters to 75 media outlets, saying they need to pay attention to the content of the weight-loss ads they are running. AdAge reports that the government agency has also launched a program called “gut check” that highlights claims media should be suspicious of so they can avoid “running advertisements with claims known to be false.”
The agency told AdAge it expects media will voluntarily comply and does not expect to take action against companies, although it does have that right.
The FTC recently slapped fines on several companies for their weight-loss ads, such as Sensa Products for deceptive advertisements that indicated the users could continue their current habits but would lose weight just by sprinkling the powder on their food. This violation and several others resulted in a $46.5 million judgment.
L’Occitane was billed $450,000 over claims that its Almond Beautiful Shape skin cream could help users lose 1.3 inches in four weeks, and HCG Diet Direct was called out for marketing what the FTC called “an unproven human hormone that has been touted by hucksters for more than half a century as a weight loss treatment.” Cost: $3.2 million.