FTC Clamps Down on 'CortiSlim' Ads

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against the marketers of "CortiSlim" and "CortiStress" diet pills for false and unsupported claims. Separately, it is preparing to check on how well broadcast and cable outlets have been policing such ads.

The infomercials and shorter TV spots for the product, which aired on cable nets including Discovery and Travel Channel, and on radio and TV stations, claim that control of the "stress hormone" cortisol, is a dietless, exerciseless answer to weight loss.

“The Window Rock defendants’ weight-loss and disease-prevention claims fly in the face of reality,” says Lydia B. Parnes, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

In the complaint filed in a California federal district court, the FTC also charges that at least two of the TV ad formats were deceptive because they lacked sufficient disclosure of ad content,and thus suggested "falsely that the infomercials were independent television programs, rather than paid commercial advertising."

The FTC is seeking to enjoin the adds and recoup money for deceived customers.

Under an interim FTC agreement, the principals of marketer Window Rock Enterprises and Infinity Advertising have promised not to make any of the false claims cited by the commission and to include the "paid advertisement" label in all the ads they do run.

The FTC has repeatedly asked broadcast and cable outlets to better police the claims and formats of diet and health supplement ads. The commission this fall will review the effectiveness of that red-flagging policy on the number of such deceptive ads that are making it to air.

The FTC has avoided targeting the media in its complaints, but it has the power to do so if it concludes its informational campaign on what to screen for has failed to register.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.