Deceptive ads lead to hefty restitution payments


FTC / Federal Trade CommissionThe FTC has hit two manufacturers of women’s garments with charges of false and unsubstantiated advertising and ordered that refunds be sent to deceived customers. One of the companies claimed that caffeine-infused underwear could help the wearer lose weight.

“Caffeine-infused shapewear is the latest ‘weight-loss’ brew concocted by marketers,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “If someone says you can lose weight by wearing the clothes they are selling, steer clear. The best approach is tried and true: diet and exercise.”

The caffeine claimer was Norm Thompson Outfitters. According to the FTC, it “…deceptively advertised, marketed, and sold women’s undergarments infused with microencapsulated caffeine, retinol, and other ingredients, claiming the ‘shapewear’ would slim and reshape the wearer’s body and reduce cellulite.” It has been ordered to refund $230K to duped customers.

The other company was iPants manufacturer Wacoal America. The FTC said it claimed that “…wearing iPants would: substantially reduce cellulite; cause a substantial reduction in the wearer’s thigh measurements; and destroy fat cells, resulting in substantial slimming.” It is ordered to pay $1.3M in restitution.

The companies are both banned from making further such claims unless they can back it up with scientific evidence.

RBR-TVBR observation: We have yet to see the FTC go after a venue that airs advertising that winds up taking an FTC hit. That is not only a good thing, it is a just and fair thing – broadcasters cannot be expected to act as content cops, particularly when the evaluation gets into an evaluation of the science underlying an advertised claim.

Nonetheless, as a service to their audiences, it would behoove broadcasters to be on the alert for scams and do their best to keep them off the air.

We are happy to report that broadcasters were not the ones that fell for something as inherently ridiculous as caffeine clothing – nor apparently did sales staffers from any other medium. These ads were mostly of the mail order and website variety.

And one word on caffeine clothing. How about using that material for pajamas that can be given as a present to one’s enemies, thus depriving them of sleep any time they wear them? That would be a real nightmare.