Recently, Donny Osmond was a guest on Dr. Phil. I was watching this closely as those with connections to LifeVantage said that the company promoted this appearance at their annual get-together. I was prepared for a mention of Protandim. Here's how it went down with the YouTube Video to follow:
Donny Osmond: Non-stop energy.
Dr. Phil: I can not even imagine. For example last night, you did a show last night, that was 90 minutes starting at 7:30, then you went through that, then you came here, you're here this morning.
Donny Osmond: That's right...
Dr. Phil: Doing all this...
Donny Osmond: It's non-stop. I don't sleep anymore. (Laughs)
Dr. Phil: So where do you get the energy. Seriously, I mean look at you. We've known each other a long time. You don't ever get older.
Donny Osmond: Well thank you. It's quick funny because people are kind of shocked when they hear that I'm 54 years old and they say, "How do you keep your youth?" I have found something Dr. Phil that I think is the closest thing to the Fountain of Youth.
Dr. Phil: Oh you do have a secret?
Donny Osmond: I have a secret and I've never really talked about it. I've been doing this for the last two years. It's called Protandim and it works and I'm telling everybody about this.
Dr. Phil: You feel differently.
Donny Osmond: I do.
Dr. Phil: Because you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
The video goes on from there, but it isn't relevant to Protandim in any way. It's worth watching just to get the full context of the exchange:
There are several concerning things by this video. If you read the title, you know the one that I'm most concerned about. However, before I get to that one, I'd like to address the others.
- Protandim Being Compared to a Fountain of Youth - This is completely irresponsible, especially coming from a paid company spokesman like Donny Osmond.
- "It Works" - This is the kind of marketing that MonaVie distributors have been making for years in the comments here. In the case of Protandim which isn't intended to make someone be younger, look younger, nor treat, prevent, or cure any disease... these companies can only make vague statements like these in hopes of misleading consumers to think, "Hey, I've got [fill in the blank condition] and could use anything that "works."
- Dr. Phil's "We've known each other a long time." - Now we know why he let Donny Osmond endorse a product he's paid to endorse without adhering to the FTC guidelines (see below).
- Donny's "I've been doing this for the last two years." - This is proof positive that Protandim hasn't made him any younger. Even according to Dr. Phil, "You don't ever get older." It is classic question, which came first the chicken or the egg. In this case we know what came first. Donny Osmond has looked young for a long time (my wife notes his obvious plastic surgery) and he got a contract with LifeVantage because of it. The cause of the LifeVantage contract was that Donny Osmond, it was not a case where he looks young due to Protandim. This is another case where LifeVantage misleads consumers.
- Donny's statement of "I have a secret and I've never really talked about it." - Really? Since he became the spokesman for Protandim he's talked about several times. The only thing that's a secret is that he's a paid spokesman and isn't disclosing it.
And that last point segues to the biggest point Donny Osmond and LifeVantage are not heading to the FTC guidelines for celebrity endorsements. Here's a quote from the FTC:
Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.
I've bolded the last sentence for effect. It specifically addresses this case of Donny Osmond not disclosing his relationship with LifeVantage on a talk show. The average Dr. Phil viewer would not be aware of LifeVantage hiring Donny Osmond to be its spokesman and this is clearly a deceptive advertisement as defined by the FTC.
The FTC goes into it more detail, in their official guidelines... specifically in section 255.5 under Example 3:
"Example 3: During an appearance by a well-known professional tennis player on a television talk show, the host comments that the past few months have been the best of her career and during this time she has risen to her highest level ever in the rankings. She responds by attributing the improvement in her game to the fact that she is seeing the ball better than she used to, ever since having laser vision correction surgery at a clinic that she identifies by name. She continues talking about the ease of the procedure, the kindness of the clinic’s doctors, her speedy recovery, and how she can now engage in a variety of activities without glasses, including driving at night. The athlete does not disclose that, even though she does not appear in commercials for the clinic, she has a contractual relationship with it, and her contract pays her for speaking publicly about her surgery when she can do so. Consumers might not realize that a celebrity discussing a medical procedure in a television interview has been paid for doing so, and knowledge of such payments would likely affect the weight or credibility consumers give to the celebrity’s endorsement. Without a clear and conspicuous disclosure that the athlete has been engaged as a spokesperson for the clinic, this endorsement is likely to be deceptive. Furthermore, if consumers are likely to take away from her story that her experience was typical of those who undergo the same procedure at the clinic, the advertiser must have substantiation for
I wish my crystal ball was as functional as the FTC's because they saw this coming a mile away. It is similar in many ways. The big difference is that laser vision correction surgery is FDA approved and "Protandim as a Fountain of Youth" is, well, the exact opposite. We still have the celebrity endorser not disclosing the paid relationship with the company. As the FTC points out this endorsement is likely to be deceptive (the FTC was erring on the side of caution, it IS deceptive.)
I think one could make a case that consumers are likely to take away that Donny Osmond is a typical example of a Protandim taker and clearly the advertiser, LifeVantage, can not substantiate the "closest thing to the Fountain of Youth" claim.
Originally posted 2012-02-09 05:17:46.This post involves:
Next: Debunking the “Protandim Study” in American Heart Association’s Circulation