Aura Labs, Inc. recently settled charges with the FTC for alleged deceptive claims that its app, Instant Blood Pressure, provided blood pressure readings which were as accurate as traditional blood pressure cuffs. Marketing for the app claimed that the app could replace around the-arm blood pressure cuffs and could accurately read blood pressure by having the user put their right index finger on the rear lens of their phone while holding the base of the phone on their heart. According to the FTC, the readings provided by the app were significantly less accurate than those generated by traditional blood pressure cuffs, noting that this deception can be hazardous to individuals whose health is dependent upon accurate blood pressure readings. In addition, the FTC also alleged that the founder and co-owner of the app provided a five star review of the app in app stores without disclosing his connection to the company. The stipulated federal court order imposes a judgment of $595,945.27 and bars Aura Labs, Inc. and its founder from making the deceptive claims identified in the complaint and from making any health benefit claims without adequate scientific evidence.
TIP: Marketers have a responsibility to support product claims with adequate substantiation. In the case of claims about the health benefits of a product, the marketer must have competent scientific evidence. Further, advertisers should bear in mind the FTC’s requirements to disclose material connections between a company and those giving an endorsement or testimonial of the company’s products.