I was just mentioning how LiveVantage’s Policies and Procedures contradicts itself to a friend. She made an additional point that I missed. As of September 13, 2011, Section 8.11.2 of LifeVantage's Policies and Procedures (PDF) reads:
"An Independent Distributor that provides a product experience testimonial in any medium should use care to disclose their affiliation with LifeVantage ('LifeVantage Independent Distributor'), be honest in their testimonial personal experience, and assert that they are not claiming that their experience is the typical result experienced by consumers."
On the surface this sounds pretty responsible. However, as was previously pointed out in the aforementioned article, is no typical result experienced by consumers so Independent Distributors can make no claims.
What I had missed, though, is that the Independent Distributor can't even make the claim WHILE disclosing that it is not typical. The FTC's Endorsement Guidelines read:
"Example 1: A brochure for a baldness treatment consists entirely of testimonials from satisfied customers who say that after using the product, they had amazing hair growth and their hair is as thick and strong as it was when they were teenagers. The advertiser must have competent and reliable scientific evidence that its product is effective in producing
new hair growth.
The ad will also likely communicate that the endorsers’ experiences are representative of what new users of the product can generally expect. Therefore, even if the advertiser includes a disclaimer such as, “Notice: These testimonials do not prove our product works. You should not expect to have similar results,” the ad is likely to be deceptive unless the advertiser has adequate substantiation that new users typically will experience results similar to those experienced by the testimonialists."
The FTC clarified this point in another FAQ about the Revised Guidelines with another example:
"In our ads we want to feature endorsements from consumers who achieved the best results with our product. Can we do that under the revised Guides?
Testimonials claiming specific results usually will be interpreted to mean that the endorser’s experience is what others can expect. Statements like “Results not typical” or “Individual results may vary” won’t change that interpretation. That leaves advertisers with two choices:
- Have adequate proof to back up the claim that the results shown in the ad are typical, or
- Clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected performance in the circumstances shown in the ad
How would this principle apply in a real ad?
The revised Guides include a lot of examples with practical advice for marketers. Suppose an ad features an endorsement from 'Mary G.' who says, 'I lost 50 pounds in 6 months with WeightAway.' This ad likely conveys that Mary G.'s experience is typical of what consumers will achieve by using the product. If consumers can’t expect to get those results, the ad likely would mislead consumers unless it makes clear what consumers can expect to lose in similar circumstances – for example, 'Most women who use WeightAway for six months lose at least 15 pounds.'"
By suggesting that Independent Distributors disclose that the results aren't typical ignores the FTC Guidelines that they either need to be able to back up the claim with adequate proof (which doesn't exist for any Protandim claim on humans) or that they disclose the general expected performance (which is no expected change for the customer of the product).
In other words, it seems every conceivable testimony for Protandim would be considered deceptive by the FTC. LifeVantage, instead of recognizing this and making distributors aware of these guidelines, hides behind the inadequate and antiquated notion of telling distributors to say, "results not typical." That's no longer sufficient according to the FTC.
Originally posted 2011-09-13 23:01:41.This post involves: