ERSP Reviews Claims For Innovative Media

New York, NY – Dec. 3, 2008 – The Electronic Retailing  Self-Regulation  Program (ERSP) has determined  that Innovative  Media  Inc., has  provided  a reasonable  basis  for certain  advertising  claims  made  for the  company’s  PhotoBlocker  Spray.  However, ERSP  has recommended the marketer discontinue  certain  performance claims  and modify  consumer  testimonials  and  clarify  information  about the  legal  use of   the product in certain states..

This is ERSP’s first decision involving advertising appearing in “Second Life,” an internet-based, 3D virtual community that  allows users  to explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade items   and services with one another.

The  advertising   came  to  the  attention   of   ERSP,   the  electronic   direct-response industry’s  self-regulatory  forum, through ERSP’s  ongoing  monitoring  program. ERSP is  administered   by   the   Council  of   Better  Business  Bureaus  (CBBB)  with   policy oversight by  the National Advertising Review Council (NARC).

PhotoBlocker Spray is marketed as a product that can be applied to automobile license plates, rendering the plates illegible to traffic and “red light” cameras. The product is marketed to independent dealers.

At the time of ERPS’s initial inquiry, Innovative Media informed ERSP  that the advertising at issue was the subject of a settlement order from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As such, the marketer requested that ERSP  administratively close the matter pursuant to section ERSP  Policy  and Procedures.

Despite the settlement agreement entered into between the marketer and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, ERSP  retained jurisdiction and noted that the the terms of the marketer’s settlement are limited to advertising and marketing materials disseminated within the borders  of Pennsylvania.

Claims at issue in the ERSP  inquiry included:

  • •           “Avoid  costly unjust traffic tickets!”
  • •           “Make your car invisible to traffic cameras”; “This spray will make your car invisible to traffic cameras.”
  • •           “It will hide your license plate from red light cameras”
  • •           “Red light cameras are about revenue, not safety!”
  • •           “Become a dealer and earn 300% + ROI”
  • •           “I made over $21,000 in less than half a day!”

 

Following its review of the evidence, ERSP  determined that the marketer did  not provide a reasonable basis for claims that the PhotoBlocker will “Make your car invisible to traffic cameras” and “… hide your license plate from red light cameras.”

ERSP  recommended that the marketer discontinue these claims in their current advertised context (including the billboard advertisement in Second Life).

ERSP  determined that the claims pertaining to “unjust traffic tickets” and red light cameras being about “revenue and not safety” would be reasonably interpreted by consumers as strictly the opinion of the marketer and readily distinguishable by consumers from provable claims.

Further, ERSP  determined that it would be reasonable for consumers to believe that they are purchasing a product that  may be legally used in their respective states in light of the fact that the marketer’s Website provides order information for its product to forty-nine states (excluding Pennsylvania).

ERSP  recommended that the marketer provide more detailed and conspicuously placed information regarding the localities in which the product may or may not be used.

ERSP  found that the marketer provided a reasonable basis for earnings claims made in the advertising. However, ERSP  recommended that the marketer modify the return on investment (ROI) claim “Become a dealer and earn 300% + ROI”  to assure that potential dealers understand they must purchase a certain amount of the product to realize that particular return on investment. Further, ERSP  recommended that the marketer modify its consumer testimonials to incorporate the typicality requirement provided in the FTC’s Guide on Endorsements and Testimonials.

The company,  in its marketer’s statement, said it strongly supports ERSP  and “welcomes the opportunity to participate in the process  and improve the availability and accuracy of all information disseminated in the marketplace.”

The company said it “pledges to make the changes as discussed, and consider ERSP’s comments in all future advertising,”