Monthly Archives: October 2016

A Crash Course In Dietary Supplement Marketing

picture of supplement bottles to accompany blog post about dietary supplement marketingIf you’ve landed on this page, you probably have questions about dietary supplement marketing. And so, for you, we’ve compiled a list of FAQs. (If you don’t find your question listed below, get in touch.)

What Is The FTC And Why Should Dietary Supplement Sellers Care About It?

The Federal Trade Commission is a quasi-government agency responsible for sussing out commerce scams. Operating under the auspices of the Federal Trade Commission Act, the department can investigate — and ultimately sue — brands, sellers, manufacturers, designers, and even developers — for “unfair and deceptive” marketing (among other things).

What Constitutes “Unfair and Deceptive Marketing”?

The FTC is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to punishments. However, the Commission does publish guidelines to help brands and marketers avoid promotional pitfalls.

FTC Marketing Guidelines To Know

What Is The FDA And Why Should Dietary Supplement Sellers Care About It?

The FTC concerns itself with promotional tactics. The Food and Drug Administration deals with dietary regulations.

Since humans digest vittles, the supplement space is closely regulated. Getting caught selling banned substances is a big deal — as is not disclosing all ingredients on a label.

If you sell supplements, especially online, investing in a product and marketing review could save you lots of money, if not your company.

One person who used my supplement had extraordinary results, can I Promote her success?

Ah, the age old marketing question: “How far can I go without being censured?”

Believe it or not, the dietary supplement marketing rules remain murky — and vary depending on jurisdiction. Case law gives guidance, but the compliance line can be a bit like a set of Hogwart’s stairs — ever-shifting. That said, here are some general guidelines to heed:

  • Don’t make health benefit claims without proper scientific support. And nope, having your cousin’s college science club submit a tendentious “report” on your miracle weight loss drug is not going to cut muster with the FTC or FDA. (Sorry.)
  • Don’t promote unusual results as normal. For example, if one of your clients happened to lose 40 pounds in 1 week, you can’t turn around and say, “You WILL Lose 40 Pounds in 1 Week By Using Our Product!” or “Lose 40 Pounds in 1 Week Without exercising!” You can highlight super-users’ stupendous aftereffects, but make sure that the words “results not typical” are conspicuously above or below related statements or images.

Click here to read more about marketing compliance.

Can I Use Network Logos & Celebrity Images On Websites Promoting My Dietary Supplement?

It’s a Tuesday morning, you’re working at home, and The Doctors comes on. Anti-oxidants is the day’s topic. Much to your delight, one of The Doctors doctors says something about acai berries being fantastic natural cleansers. A marketer of acai berry supplements, you think, “Ah-ha! Since The Doctors doctor said acai berries are great antioxidants, I can a) say that The Doctors ‘endorse’ my product, PLUS I can put NBC’s logo on my website, since the show airs on NBC. It will give my supplement great credibility!”

Don’t do it.


Well, for starters, authorization is key. You can’t use someone’s likeness, all willy-nilly, without permission (except when fair use standards apply). Plus, celebrities actively sue people who misappropriate their names and images.

The takeaway: Get permission before promotion!

Don’t Use Phony “Certificates” and “Certifications”

The FTC does censure “Doctor Trusted” certification programs that collect hundreds of dollars for a mere quick website scan.

It’s against regulations to offer falsely created, unaccredited “certifications” that have the power to manipulate consumer impressions.

Don’t Use Fake News or Review Sites As Part Of Your Dietary Supplement Marketing Campaign

In the not too distant past, scores of marketers made serious cash-money using fake news and review sites. It worked like a charm because lack of regulatory precedence allowed for maximum exploitation.

But alas, dear entrepreneur, the times…well…they have a-changed, and the Federal Trade Commission actively pursues parties that use fake news and review websites.

Why are phony sites out of bounds? Bottom line: they’re manipulative and dishonest, which qualifies as “unfair and deceptive marketing” — a civil no-no in the United States.

Connect With A Dietary Supplement Marketing Lawyer

Business hiccups are a pain. We’re here to alleviate the discomfort.

If you need assistance establishing a company, resolving conflicts, drafting contracts, defending against an FTC investigation, or performing a marketing campaign review, get it touch. Even if you don’t see your issue listed, get in touch. There’s a better than average chance we can assist with any marketing matters.

Press Release Defamation: Do I Have A Case?

Picture of tablet with press release showing to accompany blog post about press release defamation

Quick Question: Can you be sued for publishing a snarky press release? Quick Answer: Yes, “press release defamation” is a real thing — but it wouldn’t be an easy win. In addition to proving falsity, you’d have to convince a judge or jury that the defendants:

  • Bruised your bank account or caused another professional vicissitude.
  • Acted purposefully — or at least negligently — depending on the details of the case.

The Takeaway: Winning a defamation lawsuit is like dieting — tough. Not impossible, but tough. The bottom line is that statutes favor free speech. (Note: A lawsuit may NOT always be necessary; you can combat reputation attacks in other ways. Talk to a lawyer to find out how.)

Ballpark Scenarios: Potential Press Release Defamation Scenarios & The Likelihood Of Lawsuit Success

Scenario #1: The Press Release Includes A Minor Mistake

Your business nemesis, Shifty Jimmy, publishes a press release. It’s not one of his usual self-promotional puff pieces; this time around, ole’ Shifty dragged your business’s name into the fray by saying he controlled 51% of the market, and you only 49%! Hogwash! Everyone knows you represent 50%. “Shifty Jimmy is telling lies!” you protest. “I’m suing him for defamation!”

Under these circumstances, would you win a press release defamation claim?

In all likelihood, nope, you wouldn’t. The difference between 49% and 50% is negligible. To win defamation claims, plaintiffs must prove that their respective defendants’ words caused material harm. Tiny mistakes typically don’t result in significant losses; plus, they’re easily rectified.

Scenario #2: The Press Release Is About A Legal Proceeding

Let’s say you’re locked in a legal battle with another business. After winning a stage in the lawsuit, your PR person publishes a celebratory press release slamming your opponent.

Would said opponent be able to sue you for press release defamation?

Again, it depends. To win, all the standard defamation parameters must be met. Additionally, the defendant would have another litigation arrow in their quiver — privilege.

So, what is legal privilege and why is it special? Basically, privilege  can– (CAN, not will) — be an effective “get out of jail free” card. How? Under U.S. law, it’s tough to successfully sue over statements made during a legal proceeding. It’s considered “privileged” information and enjoys enhanced free speech protections.

Scenario #3: The Press Release Includes A Blatant Lie

If adversaries maliciously use press releases to rumormonger, your chances of winning a libel lawsuit skyrocket because the law doesn’t support blatant, negligent, public, harmful lie telling.

Connect With A Defamation Lawyer

Your reputation is as important as your heartbeat. Rumors spread quickly and cause serious damage. Acting swiftly is ideal. If you have a press release defamation issue — or another reputation issue — get in touch today if you’re ready to reclaim your name.

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