FTC considers rule changes on advert testimonials.

We’ve all seen ads for various weight loss pills and diet plans that start off by showing someone who looks like Jabba the Hutt’s sibling as the before picture followed by a live model who has the sort of figure that’s only gained after months on a proper diet with regular workouts under the supervision of a highly paid physical trainer.  Often they’ll make outlandish claims such as: “Using MegaSuperDietPillExtreme I lost a whopping 4,000 pounds in JUST THREE WEEKS eating EVERYTHING IN SIGHT!” The implication being that all you need to do to look as fabulous as the model is swallow some overpriced pills. All the while at the bottom of the TV screen/magazine ad is a little bit of tiny white text on a white background that reads “Results not typical.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the companies had to show you what a “typical result” actually is in addition to, if not in place of, the wildly successful result that isn’t typical? I think it would be and apparently the FTC is considering such a rule change:

Updated guidelines on ad endorsements and testimonials under final review by the Federal Trade Commission—and widely expected to be adopted—would end marketers’ ability to talk up the extreme benefits of products while carrying disclaimers like “results not typical” or “individual results may vary.”

Instead, companies would be allowed to tout extreme results only if they also spelled out typical outcomes.

“For a good part of the last decade, we have noticed a problem, particularly with consumer testimonials,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s division of advertising practices. “The use of consumer testimonials had become almost a safe harbor for companies as long as they threw in some sort of disclaimer about results not being typical.”

This is true. That little bit of text is their YOU CAN’T SUE US IF YOU TRY THIS PRODUCT AND ARE STILL A GROSSLY HUGE LARD ASS pass. After all they never claimed YOU’D do as well on their diet pill, they only heavily suggested that you might do as well.

Needless to say this rule change is causing some amount of… concern… among the makers of useless products that make outrageous claims:

“There would never be another Jared,” said Julie Coons, president and chief executive of the marketing trade group Electronic Retailing Association, referring to Jared Fogle, who became Subway’s spokesman after losing 245 pounds eating the chain’s sandwiches and exercising. “We’re all going to have to regroup” if the proposals stand.

[…] The revisions have drawn sharp criticism from product manufacturers, advertising agencies and trade groups who say it is the “aspirational” theme of their ads that motivates consumers to purchase their goods. Show less than the ultimate achievement, they say, and consumers are less likely to buy.

SEB Translation: “We’re playing to people’s fantasies of a quick fix in a magic pill/diet plan/book. If we show them the typical reality then they won’t buy our craptastic products!”

Boo fucking hoo. My blood pressure goes through the roof when some of these ads come on that are so over the top in the claims being made. Not all of them are as bad as the fictional example I made up earlier, but more than enough are and some are even more ridiculous. But according to the marketeers it’s just too hard to come up with what a typical result would be:

What’s more, they say, it’s impossible to determine typical results for many personal-care products because of unique physiological characteristics among humans and the varying levels of effort put into any endeavor.

“A lightbulb, I can give you a typical result,” said Jonathan Gelfand, general counsel for Product Partners LLC, which sells fitness programs, gear and nutritional supplements under the “Beach Body” brand.

Bullshit. You get a bunch of people with similar conditions together and you give them your product and have them use it for awhile. Then you take the results and see where the majority of people ended up and that’s your typical result.

“Showing what people start and end with and saying very prominently, ‘Results may vary,’ that is as true as you can make it,” Gelfand said. “If we can’t show a picture and give results, what are we going to do?”

Part of the problem is that “results may vary” is almost never said/displayed/presented in any prominent fashion. It’s usually a hard to read bit of fine print that shows up for all of 10 seconds in a TV commercial. That’s just plain dishonest.

He added, “Someone who can’t fit in an airline seat is not going to pick up the phone for a 10-pound weight change.”

No shit, Sherlock. Of course if your product typically only produces a difference of 10-pounds in weight change (and I’ll note you didn’t mention if that was loss or gain) then it’s probably not of any real use to too many people in the first fucking place, but you still want to have that chance to try and convince them it might be. Greedy fucking bastards.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m overweight and lazy myself and would love for there to be a miracle pill that would make me as fit and ripped as a 27 year-old exercise enthusiast, but selling me something I’d love to have when you can’t really provide it is quite simply fraud. I don’t care how many times you tell me the results aren’t typical when everything else in your ad screams that they are. It’d be nice to get a little truth in the advertising for a change.

Snake Oil to get you laid: Ultra Allure Pheromones!

I literally just received this email a moment or two ago:

To: les@stupidevilbastard.com
From: Tomas Bain

Subject: Beware of imitators, this is the original men’s phermone

Remember how you felt when your dream girl shot you down? Well now you never have to feel that way again! Pheromones have been proven to work, and are guaranted to increase your attractiveness to women of all ages. Just look at some of the testimonials we have received back from 100% satisfied repeat customers! :

“I’ve always had a problem approaching girls. They would just walk past me like I didn’t exist. I sometimes felt like they purposely would not give me any attention just because they were snobby and stuck up. Now, when I use Ultra Allure Pheromones, it’s alot easier to approach girls because THEY are usually the ones that will smile at me first or make eye contact.”
Robert K, Boise Idaho

“I saw you guys offered a moneyback guarantee, so I though I would give it a go(I had nothing to lose). Well how glad am I that I did! My first night out with a little Ultra Allure on me I had 4 different girls ask me what I was wearing and what I was doing later(I met up with the hottest of the 4 wink ) Now I don’t even leave the house without throwing on a few dabs of Ultra Allure– its my (not so) secret weapon! I can honestly say this product truly works, women are really drawn to you once they catch a little bit of the scent.”
Brad M. Kentucky

We receive dozens of emails daily just like these ones!

Don’t be left out! Pheromones have been studied extensively and profiled on such media outlets as CNN, Oprah Winfrey show, ABC, MSNBC, FOXNEWS, and magazines such as MAXIM, FHM and PLAYBOY!

Visit our website now to check out the huge discount sale going on right now! Hurry though as discount specials will be discontinued within the next few days!

Remove you e-mail

I love how carefully crafted the email is and then at the end it provides a link that says “remove you e-mail” when I never gave them my email in the first place.

Anyway, for those of you who aren’t up on the scientific research, the best that’s been found in the study of human pheromones so far is that women do respond to the scent of male sweat by altering the length of their menstrual cycles and perhaps their mood, but that’s about it. The idea that the mere whiff of human pheromones is going to make woman jump into the sack with you is wishful thinking at it’s worst.

So how much are these snake oil salesman going to hit up for when you order their products? Why a mere $69.95 (normally $109.95 the site proudly boasts) for a single bottle of unspecified quantity, but you can save up to $100 by ordering six bottles for the low low price of $249.95! Of course there are other sites out there selling similar bullshit products for as little as $20, but the folks behind Ultra Allure Pheromones have an answer to that right in their FAQ:

I found a site selling Pheromones for $20! Why should I pay more for yours?

We would suggest you take a logical look at the site and the product. Chances are that the brand they are selling is a cheap imitation knockoff of a quality product like ours. Buying a cheap Pheromone may help you think you’re attracting others, but in reality it will have absolutely no effectiveness and value to you, as you will attract no members of the opposite sex. ?

Our Ultra Allure formula is not only 100% original, but it is made only with the very best ingredients. By “best”, we mean effective . We want our customers to return to us repeatedly for business.

Our formula is sold at a price identical to most of the industries leading Pheromone manufacturers. The difference is that our product has an added essence inspired by TommyBoy™ cologne, giving it the advantage over others. And that’s what you will have with Ultra Allure , an advantage over others in attracting women.

Oh that’s some funny shit right there.

The website URL indicates it’s out of Hong Kong, home to a lot of bullshit products, and it’s a subdomain for another site that sells, wait for it… a Penis Enlargement Patch! Who would’ve guessed that? You know it’s going to be good when they start off with a claim like:

“In a poll conducted by Durex™ Condoms, 67% of women said they were unhappy with their lover’s penis size.”

With no link to the poll in question given. Visiting the Durex Condom website we can see that there are a number of polls they’ve done over the years, but none of them seem to contain this startling revelation that most women are unhappy with the size of their partner’s willy. The truth is that penis size is pretty much an exclusively male worry as most studies published seem to indicate that woman are more than happy with the size of their partners:

For their part, women appear to be very accepting of male endowment, the survey found. But even though 85 percent of women said they had no problem with their boyfriend’s or husband’s size, nearly half (45 percent) of all males surveyed said they wished for something larger. That number rose to 54 percent among males who rated their penis length as just “average.”

“The really good news for men, though, was that only 6 percent of women considered their partner ‘smaller than average,’” Frederick pointed out. (For the record, Frederick said the most reliable U.S. studies peg “average” penis size at an erect length of approximately 5.5 inches.)

Taking a closer look at the website domain via a WhoIs search we learn that it’s registered to a Shirley Floyd who set it up 02-24-2007 for a single year registered to a Yahoo! Mail account. If that doesn’t send up red flags all over the place then you’re a moron. You’d be lucky to find that this domain is even still active in a month’s time.

It’s a proven money maker for lots of people selling snake oil. Play on their fears of inadequacy with promises of easy solutions providing overwhelming results. The penis patch website promises you will “drastically enlarge the penis length and width to sizes previously thought impossible” and the pheromone site promises nonsense like the following:

Imagine this scenario. You’re out clubbing with your friends. You notice a beautiful woman across the room. Under normal circumstances she wouldn’t give you the time of day, but you know one thing she doesn’t. You’re wearing Ultra Allure pheromones . You walk up to her beaming with confidence. She senses someone approaching, turns around and doesn’t take her eyes off you until she leaves your place the next morning. Poor girl, she never had a chance.

If it worked that well it would probably be considered a form of date rape drug, but don’t let pesky moral issues stand between you and some hot action tonight! All it takes is your willingness to send large sums of cash to a foreign nation for a bottle of smelly liquid with dubious claims!