Settling false advertising charges, Goop has agreed to pay $145,000 in civil penalties and comply with a five-year injunction, the Orange County district attorney recently announced.
Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand was the subject of an investigation into whether products promoted as providing medical benefits actually made good on their claims. Conducted by the California Food, Drug and Medical Device Task Force, the inquiry was initiated after TINA.org (Truth in Advertising) filed a complaint with the DA last year, alleging that Goop engaged in deceptive advertising with regard to more than 50 products.
The DA reached a deal based on three products. Two of the items were “eggs” for vaginal wellness that Goop claimed would balance hormones, increase bladder control and regulate menstrual cycles. The third, Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, “could help prevent depression,” according to the brand.
None of the claims was backed by scientific evidence, the DA said. “The claims have the potential to affect women’s health,” DA Tony Rackauckas said in a statement. “It’s important to hold companies accountable for unsubstantiated claims.”
Customers who are unsatisfied with their jade or rose quartz eggs or Inner Judge product can obtain a full refund. During the five-year injunction, Goop is barred from making any claims regarding the efficacy of its products without possessing competent and reliable scientific evidence, and from manufacturing or selling any misbranded, unapproved or falsely advertised medical devices.
The company admitted no wrongdoing, noted it has received no complaints about the products, and added that it believes there was an “honest disagreement” about the claims.
“Goop provides a forum for practitioners to present their views and experiences with various products like the jade egg,” CFO Erica Moore said in a statement. “The law, though, sometimes views statements like this as advertising claims, which are subject to various legal requirements. The Task Force assisted us in applying those laws to the content we published, and we appreciate their guidance in this matter as we move from a pioneer in this space to an established wellness authority.”
To read the Orange County DA’s announcement, click here.
Why it matters: Goop is no stranger to controversy. In addition to the DA’s action, the National Advertising Division recommended in 2016 that the company’s blog discontinue claims for a line of dietary supplements. Moon Juice’s “Action Dust” and “Brain Dust” were promoted as “Designed to support peak performance, stamina and longevity,” and the Goop blog endorsed the supplements by stating that Paltrow included them in her morning smoothie. The NAD noted that Goop’s claims about the Moon Juice dietary supplements “amplified” the target audience for the products. “The advertising marketplace is changing and advertisers are increasingly using third parties, including endorsers, influencers and affiliate marketers, to reach consumers,” according to the decision. “It is equally important that such third-party marketing claims be truthful, accurate and not misleading.”