FTC To Require Advertisers Using Testimonials To Show Typical Results

Subway spokesman and occasional thin guy Jared Fogle may soon be out of work thanks to a new FTC rule banning commercial testimonials that warn “results not typical” or “individual results may vary.” Under the new rule, marketers using, say, body builders to advertise weight loss pills are also going to have to show an average lardass whose results might be more typical. You can guess how advertisers are reacting to the change…

The revisions have drawn sharp criticism from product manufacturers, advertising agencies and trade groups who say it is the “aspirational” theme of their ads that motivates consumers to purchase their goods. Show less than the ultimate achievement, they say, and consumers are less likely to buy.

Translation: Easily deceived consumers wouldn’t buy useless products if they knew they were useless.

“For a good part of the last decade, we have noticed a problem, particularly with consumer testimonials,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s division of advertising practices. “The use of consumer testimonials had become almost a safe harbor for companies as long as they threw in some sort of disclaimer about results not being typical.”

The rules are undergoing a final review, after which they will likely be adopted. Late night and daytime advertising will never be the same!

Federal Trade Commission’s plan to change rules on ad endorsements, testimonials worries marketers [Chicago Tribune]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Dj Butcher says:

    Imagine a world where people were actually required to tell the truth…

  2. gamabunta says:

    Hope this passes quickly. These guys like to prey on the elderly and have no remorse in selling their snake oil to those on fixed incomes.

    At least those damn Nutrisystem commercials should disappear. Mike Golic’s “WHOOOP!” scares the hell out of me.

  3. consumer-warrior says:

    Right on. Now if they would also ban those ridiculous drug company ads for made up diseases (does anyone actually know anyone who has “restless leg syndrome”?) the world would be a far better place!!!!!

    • theczardictates says:

      @consumer-warrior: “Do you have restless eye syndrome? Symptoms include involuntary blinking. You may even be thinking about blinking right now. Ask your doctor about prescription Xyzzy. Side effects may include muscle aches, stupidity and poverty.”

    • cortana says:

      @consumer-warrior: Actually, yes. I know quite a few people with Restless Leg Syndrome. It’s a nasty little thing for some people where they can’t sleep worth a damn because that leg won’t stop moving and can’t be comfortable if they try. Still, I agree… there’s not THAT many people with it that it needs so much ad coverage.

    • sirwired says:

      @consumer-warrior: I do, and it sucks. I don’t have it often enough to take drugs for it, but yes, it does exist.

    • myasir says:

      @consumer-warrior: I have restless leg syndrome and I can assure you it’s not made up.

    • bohemian says:

      @consumer-warrior: The problem is not if restless leg syndrome exists or not (it does). It is that the drug companies try to make a problem that is not all that common seem like an epidemic. They advertise these drugs in the way horoscopes are written, just vague enough it applies to everyone.

      The FTC could make my day and ban TV & radio drug advertising.

    • Jenny Mauck DeBonte says:

      @consumer-warrior: Actually, I have it, but my doctor suggested I just continue with massage since that helps and my husband will do that for free. She said we’d revisit that when massage stopped helping.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @consumer-warrior: this thread is full of win!

    • Shadowman615 says:

      @consumer-warrior: Restless leg syndrome has actually been known about for many years now.

      It’s just that recently new treatments have become available. And they started advertising on TV. But that doesn’t necessarily diminish the validity of the symptoms.

    • aydiosmio says:

      I;m 90% certain I suffered from bouts of RLS in high school. After long days I’d lay down to sleep and I’d get very disturbing pains in my ankles. It caused me to move my legs around to try and relieve the pain. I used to have to wrap them in towels to put pressure on them so I could get sleep. It was terrible. Since then I’ve only had one or two episodes in the years past. At the time I had no idea such an ailment existed.

  4. George Stankow says:

    Honestly, this sort of thing troubles me. This isn’t “truth in advertising,” this is “even if you’re telling the truth, it ain’t good enough.”

    Jared did lose all that weight by, as the commercials say, eating in a healthy manner at Subway and exercising more. It’s not lying in the slightest bit to say that Subway was a major factor in his weight loss.

    Of course advertisers choose outliers to hawk their wares. Just like you don’t put on your resume the average daily time spent surfing the Web at your desk. Just like sports teams want guys who can dunk like Jordan rather than someone who scores at the 50th percentile of all basketball players everywhere.

    Harrison Bergeron lives!

    • mike says:

      I agree with George Stankow for the most part. It’s one thing to outright LIE to people. For example, I don’t have hot models wanting to have sex with me every time I put on Axe body spray. What’s up with that?! If this rule requires Axe to stop their falsehoods, then I’m cool with it.

      But companies like Bally’s and all those weight-loss pills, etc rely on people’s laziness. If you read the instructions on most of those pills and exercise equipment, they all include “healthy diet, exercise regularly, see a doctor before starting, etc.”

      If someone actually believes taking hydroslim will make you lose 40 pounds by not doing anything, they’re just like me wanting models to come busting down my door when I put on Axe body spray.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @mike: See, I actually think the other way around. As freaking annoying as the Axe commercials are, they’re obviously hyperbole/storytelling advertising. (I’m also fairly sure lizards don’t swallow Hondas or whoever that campaign was for, animals don’t talk, and my beer is not delivered by Clydesdales. And apparently I only pay attention to ads with animals in them.) While the hydroxycut-type commercials try to pass themselves off as telling the truth, with micro-mini disclaimers about the results not being typical. They strike me as FAR more deceptive.

        @George Stankow: Subway can probably get around this. Subway is fast food. It’s not a weight-loss pill advertising itself as a weight-loss pill; it’s a food product advertising healthiness as one of its benefits, and Jared IS true. As long as it doesn’t claim that eating Subway will MAKE you lose weight or that EVERYONE who eats Subway loses weight or that Subway is some kind of health product, they can probably rework the ads to get around this. Whereas a lot of these weight-loss pill ads use models — the same ones across multiple ads from a variety of companies, even, with fake testimonials (hence the requirement the testimonials be substantiated). And they’re making an explicit health claim that their produce fixes obesity, when typically it does nothing whatever, but is unregulated and occasionally dangerous snake oil.

        • George Stankow says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle): Fake testimonials are lying. “This product will make you thinner without doing anything!” is also a lie. Outlying success stories, even when presented without counterbalancing “typical” examples, are not lies.

          • mac-phisto says:

            @George Stankow: i understand your point – & it’s a good one – but i disagree with it. think about all the ads on tv regarding “get rich quick” schemes. “i started this program & made $250,000 in a week!” “i’m making $5,000/day working part-time!” or how about “i’m not a doctor, but here i am wearing doctor clothes & speaking in a doctor’s voice to tell you that in my professional not-a-doctor doctor-looking opinion you better buy this shit! it will save your life b/c it saved mine!”

            the problem with the testimonial format is that it doesn’t have to be true in the least bit to be a testimonial. & some of these exaggerations are simply irrational. why shouldn’t we be requiring them not to make false, unsubstantiated claims? drugmakers can’t claim that their pills do something they don’t. vitamin companies can’t claim their products help with a condition unless they have substantial fda-certified proof that says they do.

            why should this be any different?

            • Anonymous says:

              @mac-phisto: because this isn’t about ‘requiring them to not make false, unsubstantiated claims’. This is about requiring them to only show ‘typical’ results.

              I get kind-of annoyed with the testimonial ads on the airwaves. But I also think that if you restrict someone’s speech to the point that they can only advertise ‘typical’ results, then we have a real problem.

              If Tiger Woods says he owes much of his success to the clubs he uses, that seems fair to me. Problem is, most of us Americans don’t have the commitment or self-discipline to get out and practice as much as he does. So now, lucky us, we won’t have to be told that by him anymore.

              I, for one, feel safer. I would much rather watch Joe Schmuck – the 300-lb. weekend golfer who shoots a 105 – selling the benefits of Nike gear, than watch Tiger sink an amazing putt. And feel a whole lot safer that the government was protecting my virgin ears from that sort of false advertising by bringing us all down on the level with the lowest common denominator. Wouldn’t we all?

              I didn’t think so.

              It all goes back to common sense…or the death thereof.

          • exconsumer9 says:

            @George Stankow: But what purpose do they serve other than to deceive?

            I understand your point, and it makes sense for a company to want to show their product’s ‘best work.’ But I’m one of those people who counts half-truths and lies of omission as lies. We aren’t machines that only spit out the minimum information asked of us. We’re empathetic by nature, and an advertiser knows what information the customer needs. Keeping it from them is quantifiably dishonest.

            This is the opposite of Bergeronesque: the poor performers will now have a more difficult time competing with the truly effective products.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle):

          Wait…if beer isn’t delivered by Clydesdales, does that mean that the heat surge Amish electric heater isn’t delivered by horse and buggy?

        • the lesser of two weevils says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle): I agree about Subway, this shouldnt affect them. Jared ate Subway’s healthier sandwiches and exercised and lost weight. That’s a result that would be typical for most people, hence why doctors say “eat healthy and exercise.”

          The Hydroxycut/Slimshots/Xenadu5000 ads where they show people with ripped abs in swimsuits saying “all I did was take it and I lost weight!” is anything but typical. Unless you’re taking some HGH along with your diet pill, you wouldnt have the muscle tone. They fail.

        • battra92 says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle): I do think Subway can get around it all by just saying that it’s healthier than say McDonalds or Burger King. I really liked the old commercial where it said in order to burn off all those extra calories when you eat a Big Mac vs a 6″ Sub you’d have to run across town to the McDonalds and back or something like that.

    • theczardictates says:

      @George Stankow: Our brains love the taste of stories the way our mouths love the taste of sugar. We can’t help ourselves, and advertisers exploit that fact.

      Because of the way our brains are wired, we are much more influenced by individual anecdotes than by objective data. It’s not greed, vanity or stupidity — it’s just the way we are built as social creatures. This is true even for those of us that think we are above the influence. The best we can hope for is to be consciously aware of the fact, and do our best to counter it. But most people, unfortunately, are unaware of it — and most advertisers gleefully exploit our instinctive response.

      • George Stankow says:

        @theczardictates: Well… yes. So the FTC is now in the business of regulating against human emotional/intellectual response? Will they next come out with a list of approved colors for the backgrounds of infomercials, because neurologists can tell you that pink is more soothing and likely to lead to a sale?

  5. Anonymous says:

    @ consumer-warrior

    Restless legs syndrome is real and yes, I do know someone who has a mild case.

    “Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve these feelings. RLS sensations are often described by people as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs. Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.”

    Just Google it for more information on the condition

  6. aixwiz says:

    One of the problems with these commercials is that we see the RESULT of dieting and exercising, but we aren’t told HOW LONG it took for Jared or the generic spokes-model to get the result.
    I’m all for truth in advertising, but they also need to tell consumers that it will take time and effort to achieve results. In our microwave society (gotta have it NOW!) most people expect instant results with no time and effort required. The advertisers play to this with how effortless it is to use their product to get results and too many people believe everything they see on television.
    Remember, it took time and effort to put on weight and it takes time and effort to get rid of it.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @aixwiz: “we aren’t told HOW LONG it took for Jared”

      Wasn’t the original Jared campaign pretty explicit? IIRC, it said how far he walked (quite some distance) and how long it took (a really long time, like a couple/three years of daily walking and dieting). I think the Jared campaign’s primary problem under the new rules is that Subway now assumes we all know Jared’s backstory.

      • cortana says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle): They also don’t really emphasize that Jared ate a 6″ whole wheat turkey sub with a bunch of vegetables and no sauce, every day for like 18 months.


        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @cortana: Ding ding ding…At first, I was thinking that Subway is actually in the OK, but even with TiVo pausing the commercials, it’s hard to see the part about how he only ate the dry cardboard subs…

        • Darkest Daze says:

          @cortana: Lets also not forget that subway puts almost nothing on their subs, so you’re eating a loaf of bread with almost no actual substinence.

        • jake7294 says:

          @cortana: not true….the $5 Ft. Long is now any foot long! Yay!

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      @aixwiz: Don’t forget, Jared has Aids!! (Thank you South Park).

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @aixwiz: I did notice on Subway’s website that they do have the dates still in the original videos, which are from the mid 90s, so when you see that video of the big Jared, that was quite a few years ago. They didn’t really make any attempt to cover this up. You would be foolish to think that someone could shed several hundred pounds in just a year or 2.

      The only thing they would probably have to do is make sure that the commercial specifies a certain type of sub with healthy ingredients, which it really does because most of the commercials show Jared with a veggie sub or a turkey sub. It doesn’t say he ate steak subs, and as with all restaurants not everything on the menu is going to be healthy so you have to choose the healthy ingredients.

      Now if we could just do something about the restaurants that claim a salad filled with fried chicken and heavy ranch dressing is “healthy”….

  7. Lori Ingham says:

    I wouldn’t think that the Subway commercials would fall under this, though. He’s not advertising a weight loss product, he’s advertising a restaurant that happens to sell low fat food.

    But I think it’s a good idea to show the average results of people using the product for one reason — I don’t know if any of you saw the episode of Penn and Teller: BS! when they had the topic of genetics vs. exercise, but in the show they mentioned the tricks that some of these weight loss and exercise companies used to get people to buy their product, such as in the before and after pictures having people stick out their tummy for the before and suck it in for the after.

    And there was another trick they mentioned that they had heard about, but couldn’t prove because of confidentiality clauses in contracts — taking a normally active, athletic person who is laid up for whatever reason and has gained weight during that time, taking a before picture, giving them the product, having them resume their normal lifestyle, and after they’ve lost the weight going back to what they were doing before taking an after picture.

  8. tc4b says:

    I’m a little insulted — did they think I actually believed what commercials tell me? My oldest is five, and he already knows commercials are lies set to jingles.

    • theczardictates says:

      @tc4b: You may “know” that, but unfortunately your brain doesn’t.

      People who think they are too smart or sophisticated to be influenced by advertising are the advertisers’ best friends.

      Their worst enemies are people who are smart enough to know that we are influenced, and, like a drinker who joins AA, try to consciously exert some control over the unhealthy impulses our brains steer us towards.

  9. Melt says:

    Too bad we can’t have them slide a Billy Mays ban in with this one.

  10. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    “who say it is the “aspirational” theme of their ads that motivates consumers to purchase their goods.”

    God I’m sick of that word. Aspirational fashion brands = ugly-ass, tacky, badly-made crap. Aspirational houses = mortgage meltdown. Aspirational “health” products = things that give you strokes while claiming to make you lose weight or grow a bigger penis. Aspirational cars = tiny-dicked losers attempting to compensate for lack of personality.

    At this point if a company claims its product is “aspirational,” I know that means it’s either badly made, doesn’t work, or is marketed at assholes — or some combination thereof. It makes me not buy that brand again.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (on Twitter: LPetelle):

      What’s the difference between a Mercedes and a Porcupine?

      The pricks are on the outside of a porcupine!

      That being said, don’t hate on the Bimmer drivers who appreciate the car for the awesome handling and overall driving feel…not the badge!

  11. Yossarian says:

    Might as well get rid of the “professional driver on closed course” car ads because that type of driving isn’t typical. Get rid of just about all pictures of restaurant food, because you aren’t going to see anything like them in a real restaurant.

    Proactiv? Dead. Pantene? Dead. Lean Cuisine? Dead. Nutrisystem? Dead. Neidermeyer? Oh. Wait.

    The very fact that commercials say “results not typical” tells me “it won’t work this well for you.” These seems like an attempt to legislate common sense, and it will fail.

    • Nicole Glynn says:

      @Yossarian: I don’t think car ads would fall under this. Just because you don’t usually drive that way, doesn’t mean you couldn’t go find some awesome curvey mountain road and drive your shiny new car way too fast… you just might get pulled over or die if you do. ;)

      • metsarethe... says:

        @Nicole Glynn: that’s the point, you could drive cars in those ads like that but it isn’t typical just like taking weight loss pils, you could achieve those results but again not typical.

        Even though the intentions may be noble, when things like this are ruled on/legislated it’s not surprising for there to be unintended consequences. I def think card could fall under this

    • orlo says:

      @Yossarian: It’s true that all advertising lies, but that doesn’t make it right. If companies didn’t spend so much on marketing, maybe they would put money into improving their product and customer service.

  12. EricLecarde says:

    So does this mean I can finally watch late night television without seeing an Enzyte commercial every 30 seconds? Wow… It became a drinking game for some friends of mine… you know, take a drink everytime some male enhancement commercial came on. I wonder if it’ll become MAIL enhancement instead. Yes I know… bad pun.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’d like them to just get rid of the paid advertising in the early morning, You know the 6 hour or so block(2am-8am) of TV with just advertising, after all we already pay the cable/dish providers for a service and it seems like were paying($100+) to be advertised to. Give me re-runs of the shows that were on the previous day. I think that tv stations are in cahoots with Tivo and the other DVR companies .

  14. Nick1693 says:

    @Yossarian I found that Proactiv is actually pretty good, not sure what you’ve experienced with it.

    • _catlike_ says:

      @Nick1693: The active ingredient in most of Proactiv’s products is benzoyl peroxide, which is very effective for treating acne. But then again, it’s the active ingredient in many other non celebrity-endorsed, drugstore-carried brands that are much less expensive.

      BTW, I don’t know if it’s just me, but if I am logged in and shift-reload the page, the reply button seems to work.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @_catlike_: Shift reload helps, but it seems that sometimes I have to click reload many times watching for the profile link to show up. Then I can reply. Honestly, the consumerist clearly must have zero control over development for this issue to still not be fixed. I wonder if gawker pushed them a bad update and is holding onto the fix. They are probably pissed they sold the site right before the facebook publicity.

  15. Telekinesis123 says:

    Extenze is in big trouble…

  16. sirwired says:

    This regulation will have ZERO effect on scummy exercise/diet ads. They ALREADY violate a whole pile of FTC regulations, even without these rules on testimonials.

    Pretty much any ad that says you can lose weight or gain muscle rapidly without restricting your diet and/or exercising for extensive periods is lying. Period. End of story.

    “Rock hard abs in five minutes a day!” The “testimonials” are complete lies. Not only are those “results not typical”, they NEVER happened. They are ALREADY fraud, even without new rules.

  17. seamustry says:

    Now all they have to do is ban fine print…

  18. HogwartsAlum says:

    I’m so sick of all those lying ads. Do they think we’re stupid? Apparently, there are enough stupid people out there for them to continue airing them.

    That said, if they yank the ads, what are we going to make fun of? ;)

  19. Nathan Miller says:

    Does this mean that the Sham-Wow ads will now feature Vince just sitting there looking at his watch until it is time for the commercial to be over?

  20. GMFish says:

    I doubt if this new law would apply to Subway and Jared Fogle. Subway is not a diet plan. Subway does not sell a diet plan. Nor does Subway sell a diet service, of any type.

    Subway’s point with Jared is that you can eat their products in a healthy way. Not that you will lose weight if you eat their products.

    That’s the difference: Subway promises food, sells food, and delivers food. A diet service promises weight loss, sells a plan for weight loss, technically should deliver weight loss.

    That is the type of product/service this law should target. Not restaurants.

  21. I_am_Awesome says:

    Jared’s results are typical if you eat what he ate for a few years. IIRC, he had a 6″ turkey sub for lunch and a 12″ veggie sub for dinner. He drank diet coke. Anyone who eats that every day for years is going to be thin. Most people don’t have the willpower to stick with a diet plan, but that’s not Subway’s fault.

    I think the target here are ads that claim you can lose an absurd amount of weight in a short time, even though those results will rarely happen even if you follow the instructions exactly. Or ads that claim that you can make tens of thousands of dollars a week with a work at home program.

  22. corinthos says:

    It always annoys me how people stand in front of their jeans held like that. Lets see you hold up an actual pair of your jeans now to see how they match up. I’d I held out my jeans like that which are 32s I’d look pretty wide too.

  23. Mr-Mr says:

    As encouraging as this sounds, advertisers and snake oil salesman, will come up with ways to go around the rulings. They always do. It’s a matter of perception. Have you ever wondered why you don’t see the word “used” being utilized to sell a “used” product? Marketers have come out with nonsense like “recertified” and other words just to avoid saying “used” or “repaired.”

  24. Skeptic says:

    Well, the company this will really effect is those “burn the fat” pills and powders companies who hire athletes who are recovering from an injury (and have gained weight) and use them for before and after pictures, and make them sign iron clad non-disclosure agreements so they can never tell anyone the facts behind the deliberate deception.

  25. Randy Treibel says:

    Thank god. For too long i’ve been sick of deceptive capitalism. Is just a little bit of honesty too much to ask for?

  26. Quilt says:

    But what would define a “typical” result?

  27. dronnac says:

    What’s laughable about Jared Fogle is that it’s pure hypocrisy as if someone who would eat a subway sandwich everyday wouldn’t get as fat as if they were on a MacDonald’s diet, please, same BS.
    Lobbyists will get rid of this FCC rule in less than one.
    Now let me go back to feeling fat ’cause I ain’t a size 2 or 0/

  28. sir_eccles says:

    Crazy Fox is quaking in his boots, release the hounds!

  29. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I want the commercials to stop yelling at me, too. I wish they could regulate the volume. [Said with tongue in cheek…sort of.]

    But seriously, it’s hard for me to weigh in on this issue because I have a background in nutrition. The biological weight loss formula is so simple that I can’t believe people fall for weight loss scams, but they obviously do in great numbers, judging by the growing number of the ads on TV. The sham weight loss ads prey on people with a legitimate need to lose weight, and that is a creepy pathetic way to do business.

    I hate excessive regulation, but sham weight loss companies should be deterred. I’d rather the gov’ment call weight loss scams what they are–fraud, and prosecute them as such, rather than chasing the scammers around with regulations.

  30. CaptZ says:

    OK…..since they are going to do this, the US Govt. needs to update the way they measure mileage for cars. Since we all know the MPG they show on commercials is not typical. Should the advertisers just not mention MPG in ads anymore? Or does this just get rid of the ada all together?

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @CaptZ: What do dentites have to do with your MPG?

      They have redone the way the EPA measures your mileage…that’s why all cars suddenly took a huge drop in stated figures last year.

      However, they’re still allowed to use the old methodology for calculating their fleet average fuel economy.

  31. Trai_Dep says:

    How these weight loss ads work is that they get someone who’s naturally fit who’s had an atypical change in circumstances. Say, a triathelete who’s broken a leg and must skip training for several months.
    They sign him/her up. They take Before Pictures. They wait for cast to come off. They wait as the person’s healthy lifestyle does its thing and: voila! S/he’s ripped! They take After Pictures and take credit for what everyone knows already: Eat Less, Exorcise More*.

    * Within body type parameters, of course: we’re not all wired to be buffed, lithe, handsome Sex Gods. Just Californians and Floridians.

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    * Err, scratch “Floridians” and substitute with “Miamians”.
    Because have you seen Pensacoloans in a Speedo? Not pretty.

  33. Damocles57 says:

    What about campaign ads showing politicians eloquently orating in front of an empty house/senate room? Should we have to see all the boring, inarticulate, mundane issues the politicians do too?

    What about ads that claim this new putter/driver/golf ball will trim 9 strokes off your game? Do we include people who bought the item(s) that are now collecting dust in the closet?

    What about ads that claim this new fishing lure/bait will catch huge fish? Do we include photos of all the other lures that can catch big fish or photos of the little fish also caught?

    What about ads that show XYZ’s compound bow and archery equipment killing record deer and elk? What about the klutz like me using this great hunting system and missing every shot because I don’t practice 8 hours a day.

    What about Victoria’s Secret showing photos women who look great in their underwear instead of photos of the women who actually buy the underwear? There is a reason there aren’t many VS models. If everyone looked great, the models wouldn’t make a ton of money and there wouldn’t be so few of them.

    I don’t mind hearing from people who have actually used the product(s) and attained exceptional results. I would like to see a statistical distribution of all people who used the products vs. a control group to know what affect beyond the norm this product has in the change it is trying to achieve.

  34. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m positive the Republican Party is quaking in their boots over the implications that this has over their next advertising cycle…

  35. RedSonSuperDave says:

    It’s about time! Maybe for an encore they can legislate that all type in any form of advertising has to be exactly the same size. I find those disclaimers (that are three paragraphs of text which stays up for two seconds, in type so small that I can’t read it on a 36 inch HDTV) utterly idiotic, and I’m surprised that they’re allowed.

  36. Alys Brangwin is a Tar Heel bred says:

    @consumer-warrior: Stopping direct-to-consumer drug ads would be wonderful. It’s not because you think they’ve made stuff up so they can medicate it, but because now when people go to the doctor, they demand certain drugs they’ve seen on TV. This wastes the doctor’s time because he or she wants to explain why this medicine is unnecessary, but the patient thinks that the need is justified. Then the doctor gives up on explaining and just prescribes it anyway to shut up the patient and get them out the door so they can move on to seeing other patients in order to keep their offices afloat financially. It’s a common complaint of doctors, and it would be great if the practice were phased out.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @Alys Brangwin is a Tar Heel bred:


      One thing that I’ve heard from MDs is that they’re pressured to just prescribe whatever, since they know that patients tend to just “shop for Doctors”…where they keep switching docs until they find one that agrees with them.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @RedwoodFlyer: Which can be detrimental to their health. I hate how U.S. Healthcare is centered around “what pill do you need do fix your problem?”

        There are many conditions that can be treated and/or controlled by way of lifestyle changes (ie healthy diet and exercise), but we always want the quick fix pill that’s gonna make it all better, because that’s what Big Pharma has conditioned us to want.

        • Anonymous says:

          @dragonfire81: Big Pharma is trying their best to condition that response, but there’s a whole lot of blame to be laid on people being Just Plain Lazy also. Working out is HARD. Eating right is HARD. much easier to just pop a pill, put my feet up and have another donut while I watch TV.

        • jake7294 says:

          @dragonfire81: Big Pharma…here we go!

    • jake7294 says:

      @Alys Brangwin is a Tar Heel bred: Doubt a lot of Doctors see it as a waste of time as I’m sure there’s some type of kick back…

  37. PLATTWORX says:

    I wish ANY ad that showed a “customer” or someone who is supposed to be a “company employee” have to tell us if that is not the case.

    A nice “PAID ACTOR: NOT A CUSTOMER OR EMPLOYEE” would be nice right across the bottom of the screen.

  38. Oface says:

    @Trai_Dep: HA!!!! Most people you see in Speedos on Pensacola Beach are usually overweight, pale, pasty, midwest tourists.

  39. ryaninc says:

    All I can say is, FINALLY!

  40. JackWindies says:

    I have Restless Leg Syndrom and at night it keeps me awake sometimes for hours. I took requip for about a month and the RLS is for better than the effect of those pills. Could not stay awake for more than 30 mins at a time.

  41. AtomicPlayboy says:

    Once again, I offer my panacea: mandatory instruction in basic logic and reasoning for all schools. If the general population possessed a rudimentary grasp of the fundamentals of critical thought, and adopted the objective skepticism that naturally stems from it, we would be immune to advertising completely. Of course, we’d be inoculated against the tactics employed by politicians who would have to implement a mandate for this type of instruction, which is why such a thing will never come to be.

  42. ironchef says:

    it’s tough on advertisers because the ordinary schmoe isn’t very appealing.

    way to peddle mediocrity, FTC.

  43. ceez says:

    omg this is awesome…then maybe after a while people will stop comoing up with stupid weight loss machines, programs and pills and we’ll see the end of those infomercials! FREAKING GREEEEEAT!

    and what’s gonna happen when they do the same to the cooking appliances infomercials? Must use food that actually came out of your super radioctive cooker….oh look, not so juicy and soft afterall!

  44. gttim says:

    Waiting for the typical results for Viagra. Instead of the youngish looking 57 year-old with a $100 haircut and a hot wife, lets see the overweight businessman in a bad suit and a comb over, with a 47 year-old bimbo who has huge fake tits, telling us that he can sometimes get it up if he pops enough Viagra and thinks of Salma Hayek in that vampire movie, pouring liquor down her leg into his mouth.

  45. CumaeanSibyl says:

    “Typical” could be pretty difficult to define in some cases. Think of those diet plans that send you frozen meals and say “you can have three of these per day, plus one of our special candy bars, and you have to do X minutes of exercise per week.”

    The company’s argument would be that “typical use” means following the instructions to the letter, but you could easily make the case that true typical use means slacking off on the exercise and cheating on the diet at least once or twice a month, probably more.

    Weird analogy, but birth control methods always provide two effectiveness rates — one for “perfect use” and one for “typical use” — acknowledging that most people will screw it up at some point.

  46. Katlyn Cavanaugh says:

    I have heard that in many weight loss commercials, they recruit women who have just had a baby (I’m talking she popped the kid out 6 hours ago) and then wait for them to lose the baby weight. Of course a woman who just had a kid and already lives a healthy lifestyle will lose “30 lbs in just 12 weeks!”

    Seemingly, they forget to mention about 8 lbs of it was another human being.

  47. savdavid says:


  48. rhys1882 says:

    My guess is the companies will sue to stop the regulations as a violation of the first amendment. Probably won’t win, but that’d be my guess.

  49. MooseOfReason says:

    What does this mean for Cash 4 Gold commercials?

  50. deconecon says:

    Finally! Advertisers simply printing ‘results not typical’ in mousetype at the bottom of a TV commerical shouldn’t be a license to commit fraud.

  51. Marshfield says:

    Speaking of odd names, how about ZZYZX road?

    It exists! I was there… see picture: [tinyurl.com]

  52. vladthepaler says:

    Wow, that’s awesome! Truth in advertising at last? Yay FTC.

  53. Joseph Butler says:

    I applaud the FTC’s efforts. This appears to be a common sense approach to stupid false advertisements. Score one for the FTC.

  54. Haltingpoint says:

    Personally, I’d be more excited if this had some teeth to go after scummy affiliate marketers. Broadcast advertising is fairly regulated and stations have their own guidelines (some strict, some not. Nickolodean for example has INCREDIBLY strict standards on toy ads).

    Affiliate marketers for the most part don’t care anything about how their products are advertised and if this let us go after the companies who were paying these affiliates, they would make more of an effort to clean things up. Think Acai and colon cleansing products that have been making the rounds lately.

  55. Brandon David Maas says:

    It really doesn’t matter when it all comes down to it. All that will happen is a stupid little disclaimer that you can barely see for 10 seconds in tiny white lettering on a white back ground will say results may vary, or this is not the typical weight loss, our company paid the liposuction have a nice day. It’s all the same garbage day in and day out. nothing will change, it never does, the ad agencies just find loopholes.

  56. suburbancowboy says:

    What does this do to an infomercial like p90x which doesn’t make ridiculous claims like “exercise for 5 minutes a week and take 10 inches off your waist guaranteed!!!”. But for proper results, you have to workout hard and exercise. Most people probably won’t actually stick to the intense regimen required to get the real results of the program. How do they monitor this and enforce it?

  57. Drew5764 says:

    Diet and exercise (together, not independently) are pretty much sure-fire ways to lose weight. I’d say they fall in the “typical results” portion of the spectrum.

    The fact that most people suck and would rather just diet, and sit on their ass all day doesn’t mean Jared didn’t have it right.

    That Subway sucks, is another matter entirely. If you live in NYC, there’s no reason not to go to a deli where the meat is at least freshly sliced.

  58. Wayne Baxter says:

    “Dj Butcher
    6:17 AM on Sun Mar 22 2009 Imagine a world where people were actually required to tell the truth… “

    Dare we hope? Nah, that would be a boring world.

  59. R. Emory Lundberg says:

    I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the news about Jared’s Law.

  60. bairdwallace says:

    I wonder how the wording of the law is going to affect this. For example, the average consumer probably buys something like the P-90X workout program, and then DOESN’T FOLLOW it, so they don’t get the results. But if you do follow it carefully, you get some results, maybe not quite like the guys in the ad, but it is a killer workout for 90 days… So it doesn’t really seem like they’re misleading you, just getting your hopes up about your own self-discipline.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t everyone know that Jared had his stomach stapled? It’s nowhere to be found in the literature, but neither are the thousands of lawsuits and arbitration cases against Doctor’s Associates and Subway. It was done to make sure Jared had the best results! Fred DeLuca is a deceitful punk and a billionaire because stupid people keep buying his franchises and going broke. Not to mention several other franchising entities who use deceitful advertising to sell their wares and their franchisees down the river!!! See more at bloodyfranchise.wordpress.com

  62. kreatre2009 says:

    This is great! It’s about damned time that this problem got addressed. One of the biggest abuses is in the weight loss products. I spent months working out, eating right, and depriving myself of a lot of my favorite foods to lose 40 pounds. It’s offensive to me to see commercials showing someone who obviously didn’t use the advertised product talking about how successful they have been. I did all of this with no help from any pills or supplements. The secret weight loss is to get off your lazy ass and take your goal seriously.