A February 15, 2010 article in Advertising Age featured multiple quotes from Advertising and Marketing Group partner Claudia Lewis-Eng on the increasingly complicated nature of celebrity testimonial ads in the dieting industry.
According to Lewis-Eng, the FTC regulations updated last fall up the ante on earlier mandates. Now, all paid spokespeople must be identified as such, the "results not typical" boilerplate must be clearly visible, and diet programs must now specifically state how much the average person can expect to lose on a given program.
These and other mandates are likely to upend the way testimonials are done, Lewis-Eng said, which could be a major blow to sales. "It's my understanding that the testimonial is what sells the product," she said. "And I think that's why the FTC has taken such a hard stance."
Lewis-Eng also said that marketers may only employ models who use the product regularly, which would be difficult to monitor.
According to the article, the FTC also announced that it was beginning an investigation of several diet companies' marketing practices. Results of the investigations are expected to be public, along with the companies' names, sometime after the first of the year. Lewis-Eng said to expect a lot of zeros.
"FTC has been exacting larger and larger fines from these companies over the last five years," she said. "Some companies have paid the agency millions and millions of dollars ... the financial fines wouldn't be small."