ERA Calls Self-Regulation a Success

The Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) yesterday announced that in the first year of its industry self-regulation program, it has tracked 1,730 direct response ads, and that of the 45 cases it found to include potentially false advertising, 36 marketers agreed to modify or change their ads based on the its recommendations.

“We believe that in order to continue to thrive as an industry, e-retailers must be held accountable to the industry, to regulators, and ultimately, to consumers,” ERA president/CEO Barbara Tulipane said in a statement. “The success of this program is a clear indication of the industry’s willingness to adhere to guidelines that ensure consumers receive fair and accurate information about products. Our members should be very proud of their efforts.”

Under the program, marketers must provide adequate substantiation of questionable claims in their advertising within 15 days of an ERA evidence request. If the claims are found to have inadequate support and the marketer does not pull the program or make changes, the company is referred directly by ERA to the Federal Trade Commission.

In June the FTC released a federal court order requiring Great American Products and Physician’s Choice to pay up to $20 million in consumer redress as a result of a referral by the ERA’s industry self-regulation program.

Most of the ads questioned by the ERA’s self-regulation program in the past 12 months pitched weight-loss, skin-treatment, and health-improvement products, said the ERA.

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