FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
IN THE MATTER OF
ENDORSEMENT GUIDES REVIEW
Project No. P034520
COMMENTS OF PRODUCT PARTNERS, LLC
Product Partners, LLC ("Product Partners") welcomes this opportunity to respond to the
Federal Trade Commission's request for comment on issues relating to its Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising ("Guides").
Since 1998, we have helped millions of people improve their health and wellness with a
variety of fitness, weight loss and nutritional products using only proven tools that combine
portion control, physical activity, and good nutrition. No short-cuts here.
Our business is founded on the premise that consistent exercise and smart eating is the
long term way to get lean and healthy. But to attract people to that mentality takes inspiration.
Our real success stories are that inspiration. Real people using the product as intended to achieve
incredible, healthy, results. No magic pills, no expensive equipment. Just inspiration and support
to stay with the program.
The responsible use of truthful and not misleading testimonials is a central and critical
component of our ability to motivate people to accept exercise and sensible eating as effective
for several reasons. Most important, as our loyal customers repeatedly confirm, the testimonials
inspire them that it’s possible to succeed if they adhere to both the exercise and nutritional
components of our programs. The "aspirational" examples of successful results portrayed in the
testimonials continually remind our customers of their own fitness goals and motivate them to
try and achieve similar results. As a dramatic example, we have learned that passive viewers,
those that have not even bought our products, have been inspired by our message and taken
action of their own accord. We call that “collateral success.”
Product Partners commends the Commission for its success in using its enforcement
authority to penalize companies for publishing testimonials conveying false or misleading
claims, especially in the area of weight loss. We also enthusiastically support this examination
of the important issues associated with its policies and appreciate this opportunity to comment.
As is more fully described below, the primary purpose of this comment is to explain why the
Commission should not change its policy in a manner that would restrict the ability of companies
to present the true experiences of actual consumers without conveying a false or misleading
claim. It is further critical that the FTC's policies not infringe our constitutional right to portray
the honest experiences of such consumers obtained and featured in accordance with the current
Guides, which include a disclaimer making it clear that no single testimonial represents a result
that is "typical."
I. Product Partners' Interest in This Proceeding
Through its Beachbody® brand, Product Partners advertises and markets fitness and
weight loss strategies through a variety of media and advertising formats, including program-
length television commercials (“infomercials”), short-form direct response television
advertisements, and Internet advertising and marketing. Our marketing efforts include true and
proper testimonials, as this direct response advertising constitutes the primary means for
providing information about our products and the healthy results that can be obtained by
II. Product Partners Supports the Electronic Retailing Association and the Comments
It Submitted Jointly with the Council for Responsible Nutrition
Product Partners is an active member of the Electronic Retailing Association ("ERA").
Our President sits on ERA's Board of Directors and participates in the development of policies
and programs designed to promote honest and responsible advertising and marketing practices.
We fully support ERA's efforts in this regard, including, for example, the Electronic Retailing
Self-Regulation Program ("ERSP"). We are aware of the comments submitted jointly by ERA
and the Council for Responsible Nutrition ("CRN") and fully support their assertions that: (1)
the revisions under consideration raise substantial constitutional concerns and would
unnecessarily and negatively affect advertisers and rob consumers of the inspiration they need to
pursue a healthier lifestyle of exercise and sensible eating; and (2) the print ad copy tests
released by the Commission are flawed.
III. FTC's Policy Must Permit the Use of a Testimonial That Does Not Reflect a Typical
Result, Because the Variables of Typicality Are Virtually Infinite
As noted above, the use of inspirational testimonials has been a fundamental component
of our advertising since the company's launch in 1998. Their role goes beyond merely motivate
potential consumers to purchase the product. Specifically, they are inspirational – showing each
viewer what is possible with the decision to get healthy, and the commitment to see that decision
through to succeed. Because all our fitness and weight loss systems are based on the premise that
a person must regularly exercise and follow a sensible diet in order to lose weight in a healthy
way, a statement which we clearly and prominently display in our advertising, the benefit of the
product is directly tied to a person's willingness to stay the course and consistently follow the
recommended program. Product Partners never has, and never will, sell a “magic pill” or
promise another form of a quick fix to lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle; we purposely
develop our advertising to show that hard work, sweat, a balanced diet and dedication are the
only avenues to achieve true results. Hence, staying motivated is key, and showing actual results
that consumers truly obtained is a responsible and ethical way of encouraging all of our
customers to remain motivated to achieve both short and long-term results.
It is reasonable to assume that most people understand that the weight loss result obtained
by one person does not necessarily reflect the weight loss that he or she will experience. If we
showed an inspirational example of a woman who lost 100 pounds, it reasonable that a person
who weighs 150 pounds will know they will not lose 100 pounds by working out and eating
right, but that they could lose the 20 or 30 that they want. A 400 pound person could equally see
that there is hope for them to lose over 200 pounds. The variables that affect the rate and extent
to which a person can lose weight are so varied and well-known to the viewer (including, among
other things, genetic predispositions, body type, and the current level of obesity of the
individual), that it is difficult to believe that consumers are not capable of understanding that
their result may be different from those that are shown in advertising depending on multiple
factors, but that success nonetheless, is absolutely achievable.
Nevertheless, to reinforce the message that the results of a testimonial are not fixed or
guaranteed, Product Partners always properly utilizes disclaimers. Although most people need
not see a disclaimer to understand that the testimonials are not intended to show that every
person will achieve that specific result, the disclaimer that “individual results may vary” removes
any doubt that the specific benefit that a particular individual will obtain will depend on a
number of factors, including their adherence to the program as designed. An FTC policy that
prohibits the use of testimonials with disclaimers in this manner lacks any justification and, as
noted above, would detract from a person's overall experience with the product – reducing the
likelihood that his or her fitness goals will be achieved, or that a person would ever achieve the
requisite motivation to commence a healthy program and make a significant improvement in
their health and lifestyle. Further, as our advertisements demonstrate, our customers experience a
wide range of weight loss and fitness transformations which are specific to each of their
respective goals; for example, while some customers experience significant weight loss, we
feature other testimonials of people who may only lose ten pounds while toning their bodies and
Without an ability to discuss and feature aspirational results, companies would be
extremely limited in their ability to motivate consumers to replace unhealthy habits for healthy
habits, which is particularly troubling for companies like ours that advertise products that require
discipline and a certain level of sacrifice to succeed (“I’m not going to bother with all that hard
exercise and deprive myself of fast food with their system if I’ll only lose 30 pounds… I need to
lose 75 pounds!”).
It is conventional wisdom that the best way to maximize your potential is to set your
goals high. Why not inspire those seeking to lose weight and improve their fitness to do the
same? We have a trend of obesity in this country that will only be reversed with real inspiration
to live a healthier lifestyle. We need to be able to show them what is reasonably possible!
Product Partners continually receives unsolicited customer submissions demonstrating
dramatic and aspirational results by our actual consumers. These people are begging us to share
their stories so that others like them might be inspired. Will we not be allowed to share the story
of a diabetic who lost one hundred pounds because not all in the audience has the potential to
lose 100 pounds? Our publication of these stories in advertising and elsewhere has encouraged
others to invest in their health and begin on a path almost certain to lead to a better quality of life
– often regardless of whether they bought the product or not. We have dramatically changed the
lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom based their decision to initiate this
change on the amazing results seen in the testimonials. It is crucial to continue to allow
companies to feature these results and stories (properly obtained and disclosed in compliance
with the Guides and industry requirements) as they will continue to lead people to make positive
changes in their lives after realizing – "if they can do it, then I can do it too." As specific
examples of feedback we have received from our customers who have been inspired to change
• Lisette Abraham-Harris who lost 130 pounds using our Slim in 6® program writes:
“My embarrassment at the gym made me turn away never to return again. Then I was
looking at the television and saw the advertisement for Debbie’s Slim in 6. I saw the
people mirroring my emotions, who were now bursting forth with youthful energy, they
convinced me to at least try Slim in 6.”
• Christine Lackey who lost 115 pounds writes after her physician told her and her husband
that they were obese:
“Wow! That statement hit us both like a ton of bricks! We went home depressed and
then saw the infomercial for Power 90. The people’s stories were so convincing. They
really made us believe that we could do it too, that we could get fit and lose weight!”
Our ability to showcase these types of success with proper and appropriate disclaimers is
critical to us being able to promote a healthy lifestyle. And this is our point: if it is reasonably
feasible for one of our products to be able to achieve the results of a testimonial we feature, then
it must be acceptable that we could inspire viewers by promoting those results. Those results are
true, and it follows that this is truth in advertising.
Subway has built an entire advertising campaign around healthy eating with their foods
based on ONE substantial weight loss story, that of Jared. Are his results typical of a person who
eats at Subway? Of course not. But is it worthwhile to the viewer to know that a proper diet can
contribute to substantial weight loss? Absolutely.
IV. The Print Ad Copy Tests Commissioned by the FTC Do Not Justify a Policy That
Prohibits the Use of Testimonials That Are Not Typical
Product Partners fully agrees with the conclusions of Dr. Thomas J. Maronick, submitted
by the ERA and CRN, that the Endorsement Booklet Study and the Second Endorsement Study
are fatally flawed and could not be used as the basis for any change to FTC's policy. In addition
to the many flaws in the studies presented by the ERA, it is important to note that these studies
represent a type of consumer that is entirely different from the type of consumer that typically
views television advertising. The studies therefore do not reflect the impressions of the typical
consumer viewing an advertisement for a product advertised by Product Partners. For example,
the average age of the study participants was almost two decades older than the average
television customer (35 years old). For this reason, the studies do not provide a basis for
prohibiting the use of aspirational testimonials that are qualified with clear disclaimers.
V. For a Fitness Company, Determining a "Typical" Result is Impossible
With a fitness company showing a balanced program of exercise and diet, it is almost
impossible to truly know what is typical. Every person has a different body, with different
needs. One person may need to lose 60 pounds, which could be very unhealthy for another
person who is only 20 pounds overweight. Should the person who needs to lose only 20 pounds
affect typicality results for the others? And what about the person who is underweight and
actually gains weight as they build muscle by completing our P90X® extreme fitness and muscle
conditioning program? While this too is a great result that improves his or her health, should it
skew the typicality of weight loss achieved by the other users?
Product Partners is very proud of changing lives in a healthy way, and with thousands of
transformations and success stories, great healthy results have in fact become typical. We have
thousands of reports of inspirational stories from people who have successfully used our
products. Here are just a few examples:
• Chris Gerard lost 135 pounds in eleven months using our Power 90® exercise
program. In addition to feeling better from losing the weight, Chris reports that he
successfully recovered from serious medical issues, including a ruptured gall bladder.
• Aaron Mathis lost 107 pounds using Power 90®, which also helped him recover from
surgery for a ruptured disk which doctors attributed to his obesity.
• Tom Massman lost 103 pounds using Turbo Jam®. He reports that losing the weight
has had several corollary health benefits related to serious medical conditions,
including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, chronic chest pain, gastric reflux, heart
disease, several stress factures and diabetes.
• Lisette Abraham-Harris lost 130 pounds with Slim in 6® and no longer suffers from
chest pains that were leaving her "desperate and scared."
In fact, with just two of our exercise programs in 2003, 377 of our customers took the
extra time and effort to contact us and share their transformation stories to a healthier lifestyle.
These 377 people alone lost over 8,872 pounds combined, where any measure or standard of
typicality is simply misplaced and inapplicable. Again, it is our ability to feature inspirational
and aspirational testimonials that have allowed us to show how successful our programs are, and
the amazing results that can be obtained for people who follow the program and apply
We made a decision in 1998 to focus on healthy solutions, to use this powerful
mechanism of advertising to help people and inspire them to get active and eat right. We have
achieved that over and over again as our customers become vocal proponents of our company.
We have never contemplated selling a quick fix or a piece of equipment that misleads the results
you could actually achieve. That means we are working against the trend of lethargy and
medication to solve problems. We are promoting health, and our customers and their families are
the beneficiaries. Reasonable inspirational testimonials are the key tool to convincing people that
a healthy lifestyle of exercise and proper diet are the solution. We implore the FTC and its
advisors to allow us to continue to help people in this way.
We appreciate your consideration of our comments, and we look forward to working with
you to promote consumer confidence and to continue to promote truth in advertising.
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Product Partners, LLC
Product Partners, LLC
Product Partners, LLC