Beiersdorf, Inc., producer of the Nivea line of skin creams, recently agreed to a $900,000 settlement with the FTC over advertising for its My Silhouette! body cream which claimed the product could dramatically reduce users' body size. At issue was a television commercial depicting a woman able to fit into a pair of jeans (which had previously been too tight) after using the Nivea body cream. In addition, the FTC took issue with Nivea's sponsored search results on Google. The sponsored search results included headlines such as "Want a Toned Stomach" and "Thin Waist" when users searched the terms "stomach fat" or "thin waist." As part of the settlement, Beiersdorf may not claim that any product applied to the skin causes substantial weight or fat loss, or a reduction in body size. In addition, the company may not claim any drug, dietary supplement or cosmetic causes substantial weight or fat loss, or reduction in body size unless the claim is backed by reliable clinical studies.
TIP: Product efficacy claims must be supported by adequate substantiation. Sponsored search engine ads are subject to the same requirements as traditional advertising and advertisers should be careful that their sponsored search results and other search engine optimization activities do not make unsubstantiated product claims.