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It’s always nice to highlight a case where the marketer is doing things right. In one such matter, the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) determined that Guthy-Renker, LLC had adequate substantiation in support of claims for its product, Cold Plasma Sub-D, a topical cream intended to sculpt and tighten the appearance of skin along the chin and jawline.

The matter was initiated by ERSP pursuant to its ongoing monitoring program of direct response advertising, and ERSP expressed concern with a number of Guthy-Renker’s performance and establishment claims, including:

  • Results you can expect to see are: Visibly tightening of the appearance of sagging loose skin and improved appearance of double chin.”
  • “Visibly more crisp appearance of the chin and jawline, imparting an overall more youthful looking face.”
  • “I saw results within a week.”

As support for the performance and establishment claims at issue, Guthy-Renker provided ERSP with several articles on the benefits of the individual ingredients contained in the product formulation, product patents, and the results of two consumer usage studies conducted on the product itself.

ERSP ultimately found the collective and comprehensive nature of the foregoing materials to be persuasive. In particular, ERSP noted that the results of Guthy-Renker’s consumer usage studies were specifically relevant to the “visible improvement” performance attributes expressed in the marketer’s claims, while also acknowledging that home use studies have previously been considered by ERSP and the National Advertising Division (NAD) to be adequate support for performance claims. ERSP additionally gave weight to the fact that the consumer use studies were buttressed by third party studies of the product ingredients, which tested amounts similar to those contained in Guthy-Renker’s product formula.

Takeaway: Well-designed independent studies which are conducted in a clinical setting continue to serve as the “gold standard” for competent and reliable scientific evidence. But depending on the category of product, and the type of claims being made, it is very possible for a marketer to substantiate claims with an array of mutually-supportive materials, including company-sponsored consumer usage studies on the product itself, and third-party studies conducted on the amount and type of ingredients contained in the product formulation.