Direct Response Advertising For Sea Vegg Referred To Government For Non-Compliance With ERSP

New York, NY – August 10, 2005 – The Electronic Retailing Self- Regulation Program (“ERSP”), the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum administered by the National Advertising Review Council (“NARC”), announced that advertising by ITV Direct, Inc. (“ITV”), marketer for the Sea Vegg nutritional supplement has been referred to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) for noncompliance. This compliance proceeding stemmed from an earlier inquiry in which ERSP requested substantiation for several core claims identified in advertising for the Sea Vegg nutritional supplement that came to ERSP through its ongoing monitoring program.

In the original inquiry, ERSP requested that the marketer provide substantiation for several core claims that were communicated in the thirty-minute infomercial. The core claims at issue included:  “…rebalances the thyroid.”; “…helped my mother’s MS.”; “Stabilize your weight…despite your eating habits”; “Removes toxins and heavy metals”; “Incredibly, the destruction of these [cancerous] tumors was observed to take place without affecting normal cells.” and “We have all the science behind it.”.

ERSP concluded that the marketer did not conduct any studies on the advertised product nor did it conduct testing on the ingredients at the same strength in which they are contained in the product. As such, ERSP determined that the marketer could not support the claims involving general product performance, health and safety and weight loss. ERSP was also concerned that many of the claims made by ITV that were based on the testing of individual ingredients in Sea Vegg would be understood by consumers as being attributable to the advertised product when, in fact, they are not. As such, ERSP recommended that ITV either make substantial and significant modifications to the advertising or discontinue the advertising completely. In a marketer’s statement to ERSP following the decision, ITV stated it would “…immediately modify our website and take ERSP’s recommendations under consideration for all future modifications or edits of the advertisement.”

 

ERSP, through its on- going monitoring program, continued to track the exact same infomercial six weeks after the case closed, and after continuing to see the unedited version, opened a compliance inquiry.  In its original response, ITV stated that it was making modifications to the advertising, and that a new version of the advertising had been sent out for distribution.  ERSP informed ITV that it still had several concerns about the truthfulness and accuracy of the advertising and also questioned ITV about the specific time frame for its dissemination of its new advertising. Subsequently, ITV represented that it would continue to run the original infomercial, not make any modifications as previously stated, and was currently involved in litigation with the FTC.

ERSP remained concerned with the marketer’s commitment to make changes consistent with the spirit of the decision and pursuant to Section 4.1 (B) of the ERSP Policy and Procedures, referred the matter to the Federal Trade Commission for possible enforcement action.