FTC Puts Media on Notice Over Deceptive Weight-Loss Ads

'Gut Check' targets major outlets

The Federal Trade Commission has put the advertising media on notice, launching a program called “gut check” to enlist them to spot bogus claims and reject deceptive weight-loss ads.

The new voluntary guidance was announced today, along with a sweeping enforcement action against Sensa and three other fad weight-loss companies. 

The FTC sent out 75 letters to publishers and broadcasters directing them to an online tutorial that lists seven claims the FTC says are “never true.”

Though the FTC has the authority to take action against media outlets that run deceptive ads, it has not taken any actions in the past. “We’re looking for voluntary cooperation,” explained Mary Engle, associate director of the FTC’s advertising division.

“This is not a shot across the bow of media outlets. It’s a request for teamwork,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's consumer protection bureau, during today's press conference. “The ads not only hurt consumers, but once a reputable media outlet identifies a bogus ad, they would not want to run it.”