August 11, 2009
NEW YORKUrban Nutrition is modifying several Web sites it operates, following a review of product and advertising claims by the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP). The organization is recommending Urban Nutrition, which operates several product review Web sites including WeKnowDiets.com, conspicuously disclose that it owns those sites and several of the products reviewed on the sites; ERSP also suggested Urban Nutrition disclose its policy of paying product reviewers.
ERSP examined advertising claims on the Urban Nutrition Web sites, which are designed as independent product-review blogs. Among its concerns were a lack of obvious disclosure of the material connection between the Web site, products and marketer; use of express superiority claims; and promotion of most popular products apparently based on a comparative assessment, but appears to be only the marketers products. Regarding paying consumers for product reviews, ERSP determined those reviews would therefore be considered endorsements, and subject to FTC provisions on endorsements and testimonials.
Urban Nutrition agreed to make modifications to its Web sites including disclosures of ownership and paid product reviews, and to update comparative statements with parameters of how products were selected. In a statement, Urban Nutrition noted it would follow ERSPs recommendations to reinforce several aspects of effective disclosure methods for online advertising, with respect to disclosure of these material connections. [Urban Nutrition] will also make the modifications ERSP recommends with respect to [the] comparative advertising claims.
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