Networkers (and companies) often market their nutritional, weight loss or skin care products by citing the company MD, the medical board, or the company’s science board. These experts have confirmed, they’ll tell a prospect, that product X is cutting edge, the best of what’s out there.
Starting December 1, you will now have to tell prospects up front if the medical folks whose testimonials you’re using are being paid by the company. Many networkers themselves don’t realize that many company medical experts are being paid not only a salary but a percentage of the product sold.
This kind of payment is, in itself, not a bad thing. But as of December 1, that fact has to be disclosed. Because, says the FTC,
“these facts would likely materially affect the credibility that consumers attach to the endorsement. Accordingly, the advertisement (or whatever promotion – kk) should clearly and conspicuously disclose such a connection between the company and the physician.”
Here’s the example in the FTC Guides:
“Example 4: An ad for an anti-snoring product (or nutritional, weight loss or skin care – kk) features a physician who says that he has seen dozens of products come on the market over the years and, in his opinion, this is the best ever. Consumers would expect the physician to be reasonably compensated for his appearance in the ad.
“Consumers are unlikely, however, to expect that the physician receives a percentage of gross product sales or that he owns part of the company, and either of these facts would likely materially affect the credibility that consumers attach to the endorsement.
Accordingly, the advertisement should clearly and conspicuously disclose such a connection between the company and the physician (ital added). See here.
The other option, of course, is not to use those medical testimonials at all when you’re selling the product. After all, even with MDs or other scientific experts saying how great it is, no product works for everyone. I’ve taught alternatives to selling without science for years in “If My Product’s So Great, How Come I Can’t Sell It?” See here or story here.
There are much more effective ways to market the product than using MD or scientific testimonials, anyway. Most peeps don’t care about those anymore, since every product representative says the same thing about their product.
Are these FTC guidelines only for online advertising or for all types of advertising? Are the guidelines also for all types of products?
I'd love for pharmaceutical endorsements to have to follow these same guidelines. In my opinion any endorsement, scientific speech, any promotional activity, etc. should include a full disclosure of the "money trail".
I didn't notice any exclusions regarding who makes the products – mlm or pharma or other. In the Guideline regs I provided and linked to here, it sounds as if 1)ANY promotional activity is included, online and off and 2)the rules apply to any product likely to be endorsed by an MD or other such medical type of authority.
That also seems reasonable. Let's show the money trail for all where these testimonials are the basis for the promotions made by companies or independent reps online or off.
Thanks for the question – good change to clarify. If anyone knows anything else, please comment and include your source link.
Sure makes me content that the company I work with has followed those guidelines all along — and even have an award winning science
web site to tell more about the products in a scientific way for those who are interested.
I think credibility is the key and these FTC guidelines will assist in the honest portrayal of our 'stuff'.