TINA.org spotlights lifestyle company before California DAs

Haters Gon’ Hate

With its recent letter to the Santa Clara and Santa Cruz County district attorneys, Truth in Advertising, Inc. (TINA.org), is increasing the scrutiny on Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand. The Aug. 22 letter requests that the DAs launch an investigation into what they allege are unsubstantiated and illegal claims by Goop regarding the health benefits of its products.

Goop, launched in 2008 as Paltrow’s personal e-newsletter, grew enough over the past few years to attract serious venture capital funding. But controversy has dogged the service: negative press attention, a result of Paltrow’s public profile as an out-of-touch celebrity, has only been fueled by some of the outlandish products, services and ideas Goop promotes.

Otherworldly Claims

Yoni eggs, aromatic stress treatments, blog posts claiming that breast cancer is caused by underwire bras – both Goop and its founder have taken heat for a variety of product claims that developed into PR missteps. Paltrow was even called out personally during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for her claims about “grounding” – the notion that walking barefoot can help cure insomnia and depression.

The most recent and highest-profile fracas occurred when Goop was publicly rebuked by NASA for promoting “wearable healing stickers” that supposedly incorporated the same material used by NASA to line space suits. NASA claimed that it had never used the material in its suits in the first place.

TINA.org’s letter, however, goes further, cataloguing a list of 50 instances when the site claimed that its products offered treatment, cure or prevention of a number of medical problems, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, infertility, uterine prolapse and arthritis. The list is the product of several months of scrutiny by the watchdog group, including an undercover visit by one of TINA.org’s employees to a Goop-sponsored wellness summit in June. TINA.org alleges that “the company markets a variety of products, including supplements, oils, and crystals, using illegal health and disease-treatment claims.”

The Takeaway

It should go without saying that all claims must be substantiated or they are deceptive. Further, a greater level of substantiation is required for health claims. Finally, the TINA.org complaint is an example of a growing trend of consumer watchdog groups conducting investigations and presenting findings to regulatory enforcers with a demand to take action.