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Nivea Rapped by FTC for Weight Loss Claims

Posted by Shirley Brady on June 30, 2011 05:45 PM

Nivea is not only getting older — the European skincare (it prefers "body care") brand turns 100 this year — but a little wiser. 

The US Federal Trade Commission this week ruled that Nivea must pull its ads for its My Silhouette! cream, which claims using the cream leads to weight loss via the active ingredient: "Bio-slim Complex."

The advertising watchdog, which has been on the warpath against brands making diet claims in their marketing, also ordered Nivea's parent company, Beiersdorf, to pay a stiff $900,000 fine.

According to the FTC's press release:

As part of its ongoing efforts to protect consumers from over-hyped advertising claims, the Federal Trade Commission reached a settlement requiring Nivea skin cream maker Beiersdorf, Inc. to stop claiming that regular use of its Nivea My Silhouette! skin cream can significantly reduce consumers’ body size.  The company also has agreed to pay $900,000 as part of the settlement.

“The real skinny on weight loss is that no cream is going to help you fit into your jeans,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.  “The tried and true formula for weight loss is diet and exercise.”

The FTC administrative complaint charges Beiersdorf, Inc. with falsely claiming that by regularly applying Nivea My Silhouette! cream to their skin, consumers could slim down.  According to the complaint, Beiersdorf, Inc. marketed the skin cream in nationwide television ads and through sponsored search results on Google.  The company touted the cream’s “Bio-slim Complex,” a combination of ingredients that includes anise and white tea.

One television ad depicts a woman getting dressed after having applied Nivea My Silhouette! cream to her stomach and thighs.  She digs through the back of her closet, tries on a pair of old jeans, and discovers that they now fit.  During the ad, the voice-over says: “New Nivea My Silhouette! with Bio-Slim Complex helps redefine the appearance of your silhouette and noticeably firm skin in just four weeks.  So you can rediscover your favorite jeans.  And how they still get his attention.  New Nivea My Silhouette! with Bio-Slim Complex.  Touch and be touched.”

The company also allegedly purchased sponsored search results from Google so that when consumers searched on the words “stomach fat,” “nivea slim silhouette,” or “thin waist,” they found Beiersdorf ads implying that Nivea My Silhouette! could tone their stomachs, thin their waists, and help them slim down.

The proposed settlement:

• bars Beiersdorf from claiming that any product applied to the skin causes substantial weight or fat loss or a substantial reduction in body size.

• prohibits the company from claiming that any drug, dietary supplement, or cosmetic causes weight or fat loss or a reduction in body size, unless the claim is backed by two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical studies.

• requires that any claim regarding the health benefits of any drug, dietary supplement, or cosmetic be backed by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

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