The Federal Trade Commission recently settled against charges against lingerie company, Wacoal, and catalog retailer, Norm Thompson, alleging that claims made about Wacoal’s caffeine infused anti-cellulite and slimming iPant line were deceptive. Wacoal advertised that certain principles in the microfabric, including caffeine, provided a visibly “permanent anti-cellulite effect” and the company’s hangtag claimed that “test results show most women reported… a reduction in thigh measurement.” Norm Thompson also made similar promises about cellulite and reduction in thigh measurements, and also stated in its catalogs that the iPant line was “Recommended by Dr. Oz for fighting cellulite!” The FTC alleged that Wacoal exaggerated the effects and based its claims on significantly flawed trials, rampant with methodological flaws. For instance, the FTC alleged that Wacoal’s study was uncontrolled and un-blinded, and demonstrated an average loss less than 1/6 of an inch. Further, the FTC stated that Norm Thompson’s advertisements focused on a statistical outlier and that Dr. Oz never endorsed the product. The companies collectively agreed to pay over $1.5 million to settle the charges, which will be refunded to consumers who purchased the garments.
TIP: Claims about the efficacy of a product, including claims that any product reduces or eliminates cellulite or reduces body fat, must be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence that demonstrates a consumer relevant benefit under typical use.