Humans seem to be hopelessly attracted to offers for “magic bullets” that will help them achieve their goals without effort. Would that there were such a thing, but alas, magic bullets are as hard to find as unicorns and bigfoot.
The search for the “magic bullet” is never more obvious than in the area of weight loss, and unscrupulous marketers regularly take advantage of people’s desperation to lose weight.
Considering the foregoing, the FTC is especially vigilant when it comes to weight loss claims made by marketers in their promotional material.
Let’s look at an example from a spam email I recently received. It’s a classic example of what not to do:
EMAIL SUBJECT: Wake up tomorrow with LESS Belly Fat (Try this Simple Trick tonight)
The body of the email contained color before and after photos of a woman who appeared to have lost 50-100 pounds, although the ad didn’t say how much weight the woman had lost, how she did it, or how long it took.
The clear implication to be drawn from the ad was that she had experienced dramatic and substantial weight loss using this “simple trick” while she slept.
The email went on to say,
“WAIT! Before you go to bed tonight, do this ONE trick to lose 2 pounds of belly fat overnight…”
The FTC sponsored a research project of weight loss advertising and identified a number of “red flags” that it will use to identify problematic ads.
In the context of the email referenced above, the “red flags” are:
- Before and after photos showing unrealistic results to be achieved by the average consumer
- Rapid weight loss claims
- The claim that no diet or exercise is required
Based on the FTC’s research, it concluded that:
“The use of false or misleading claims in weight-loss advertising is rampant. Nearly 40% of the ads in our sample made at least one representation that almost certainly is false and 55% of the ads made at least one representation that is very likely to be false or, at the very least, lacks adequate substantiation.”
For our purposes the point is to understand that the whole area of weight loss is one in which the FTC is especially vigilant.
Based on the FTC’s research, 40% of weight loss advertising contains a claim that is almost certainly false.
Therefore, if you promote weight loss products and want to avoid FTC problems, you must be extremely careful that any claims you make are truthful, represent results the average consumer can expect, and that you can substantiate any claims you make with adequate scientific evidence.
And remember, it’s not just the outright claims that the FTC looks at. It also looks at the claims that can be reasonably implied after considering your ad as a whole.
One mistake that I see affiliate marketers making is to accept and use promotional materials provided to affiliates by the product owner, without question.
So, if you are an affiliate marketer, look carefully at the promotional materials you are given and don’t use them if they make “too good to be true” claims.
Remember, not all product owners are honest and ethical. Surprise, surprise!
Oh, and the problem of misleading and unsubstantiated claims is not by any means limited to weight loss. Take a look at the promotions you receive for just about any launch of a new “make money” product.
You’ll see an abundance of exaggerated income claims and “push-button” “done-for-you” “cash machine” “7 figure” “10 minutes a day from the beach” FTC violating empty promises.
Yes, the desire for something for nothing is alive and well. Despite all logic and common sense, legends of Bigfoot, weight loss without diet or exercise, and internet millions overnight without working persist.
If you prefer to distance yourself from these unscrupulous marketing tactics and build a real, ethical online business, there’s a link to Ryan Lee’s Freedym in the sidebar on this page. Ryan is one of the good guys. I recommend him. I am a member of Freedym myself and an affiliate as well.