Is Nutrisystem Being Cheated On?
Following an inquiry from the National Advertising Division (NABD) Optivida Health took down several social media pages that promoted the Jim Bakker Show. In July, the TV show host released an infomercial for his “No-Pills, No-Surgery” product. The page also included links to his personal site. When asked about the ads on the radio show, Mr. Bakker said he had nothing to do with the promotions. He told the NAD:
“I have nothing to do with it whatsoever,” he said. In response to further questions from the NAD, Optivida Health amended the Bakkers’ web page and removed mentions of “no pills, no surgery” and added a reference to their new wellness products, which are based on a patented manufacturing process. However, Mr. Bakker said that the company is still working with the FDA on the new products. He did not provide further details on the specific nature of the new products or if there would be a change in the name.
According to the NADA, it is not illegal for an advertiser to promote competing products while working with an unlicensed company to create an infomercial. However, the NADA expressed serious concerns about the way in which this situation came to light and called on the advertiser to stop using hemp extract in conjunction with his Jim Bakker Show. The state of Maryland, where the NADA is based, does not have laws that directly address this matter. It is recommended that the advertiser address this matter through direct regulations or state law. Because of the serious nature of the situation and to ensure the protection of their product line, Optivida Health and its parent company, Optiplause, took the steps necessary to protect their product and stop production until the issues with the FDA are resolved. The advertiser informed viewers that the company “will not be producing anymore” two weeks ago. However, it appears that the company is still processing sales and has sent letters to customers demanding payment for the product.
The company also made a number of public statements that strongly implied that they will battle with the FDA in an effort to permanently discontinued distribution of the product. It is important to note that these statements are false and do not reflect the reality of the situation. The FDA is still processing thousands of requests for refunds and has no plans to permanently discontinue the product.
Another issue that was noted between the company and the NADA during the interview is the company’s use of language that suggests that the market for Nutrisystem bars is large and increasing at an alarming rate. During the same broadcast the host characterized Optivida bars
as a weight loss supplement that had a high degree of success compared to competing products from other companies. In both statements the advertiser suggested that the company’s product provided a higher level of success than all of its competitors.
Because the advertiser repeatedly portrayed Nutrisystem as a successful product and emphasized that it was providing a higher level of success than competing products, it raised questions as to why this particular brand was being offered without additional analysis or testing.
The company responded that the company did conduct testing and that many of the customers that purchased Nutrisystem bars were satisfied with the results. The advertiser failed to address numerous critical differences that existed between the products and maintained that the comparisons between Nutrisystem and other products were not relevant.
The company’s representative indicated that they would be reviewing the current situation with Nutrisystem completely but declined to make any comments on the matter. The California Attorney General has also issued cease and desist orders to several companies over the past two years due to the illegal marketing of diet products through false claims. The Nutrisystem company received a cease and desist order from the state of California earlier this year. There have been several investigations into the advertising practices of Nutrisystem and the company is currently undergoing internal investigations in several different states