The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) recently reviewed performance claims made by Guthy-Renker for its Cold Plasma Sub-D product, a topical cream intended to sculpt and tighten the appearance of skin along the chin and jawline. Guthy-Renker claimed the product visibly tightens and improves the appearance of skin in the chin, jawline, and neck area, and advertising included a consumer testimonial in which a consumer stated she saw results “within a week.” 

The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) recently reviewed performance claims made by Guthy-Renker for its Cold Plasma Sub-D product, a topical cream intended to sculpt and tighten the appearance of skin along the chin and jawline. Guthy-Renker claimed the product visibly tightens and improves the appearance of skin in the chin, jawline, and neck area, and advertising included a consumer testimonial in which a consumer stated she saw results “within a week.” As support for these claims, the advertiser submitted the results of two consumer usage studies and several articles describing studies performed on the active ingredients.

ERSP found the advertiser adequately substantiated its general performance claims regarding the specific benefits from using Cold Plasma Sub-D. However, ERSP also determined that Guthy-Renker should clearly and conspicuously disclose that these performance claims are based on a consumer usage study. In particular, ERSP noted that the claims appear on a webpage titled “The Science of Cold Plasma” and found that consumers may reasonably assume the performance claims are based on a “scientific evaluation” rather than the experiences (and observations) of a group of consumers. As a result, ERSP found that it would be material for consumers to know the basis for the statements.

The advertiser also voluntarily committed to modify the consumer testimonial attesting to results “within a week” to more clearly communicate the limitations of its consumer usage study. ERSP agreed these changes were warranted since the study did not measure product performance after one week (only after 10 days) and the claim was not consistent with the Guthy-Renker’s product performance data. Overall, ERSP concluded that the communication of a product performance that can be typically expected by users was a fundamental and pivotal component of Guthy-Renker’s advertising for Cold Plasma Sub-D.

TIP: Advertisers are responsible for substantiating express performance claims, and where the basis for the claim would be material information to consumers, this information should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. Express performance claims based on consumer testimonials should also accurately reflect the parameters of the underlying substantiation.