PHOENIX – Virgo Publishing Inc. introduced an online training and certification program designed to ensure that marketers of dietary supplements understand how to comply with Federal Trade Commission laws and guidelines. The "FTC Advertising Compliance Program" is available at http://training.naturalproductsinsider.com through the National Training Institute and is based on the FTC document Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry.
"Supplement marketers should ensure that anyone involved in promoting products is familiar with basic FTC advertising principles," the agency wrote in the introduction to the guide. "The FTC has taken action not just against supplement manufacturers, but also, in appropriate circumstances, against ad agencies, distributors, retailers, catalog companies, infomercial producers and others involved in deceptive promotions."
The online training program includes free access to the study materials and the online test. Participants who score 90 percent or higher on the test have the option to receive a Certificate of Completion through the National Training Institute. This certification is available for a nominal fee, and discounts for multiple certifications at the same company are offered.
"The FTC has targeted the dietary supplement industry for enforcement action, and it is the industry's responsibility to ensure that ads, marketing materials and claims are in compliance with the law," said Jon Benninger, director of business development at Virgo Publishing. "This program provides companies a simple way to ensure that their advertising, marketing and communications employees understand the law."
The online program is designed for all personnel involved with advertising, marketing, sales, communications and management.
The FTC has the authority to regulate all forms of marketing, other than product labels and labeling, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. FTC authority extends to print and broadcast ads, product literature, Web sites and internet-based marketing, direct mail and other forms of promotion.
In recent months, the FTC has cracked down on many supplement marketers who have promoted products for everything from weight loss to breast enhancement. Fines have ranged from the thousands to the millions of dollars.
During its 2002 Operation Cure.All internet crackdown, the FTC issued hundreds of advisory letters for questionable claims made on health related Web sites. During a recent industry conference, an FTC Commissioner reported that the agency has brough more than 60 law enforcement actions against companies for false or unsubstantiated claims, and that many more actions are in the pipeline. And in November, the FTC hosted a workshop titled "Deception in Weight Loss Advertising" during which FTC Chairman Timothy Muris described deceptive weight loss ads as "rampant and on the rise."
"There are very clear rules that marketers can follow to ensure they do not become the subject of an FTC enforcement action," said Benninger. "This online program ensures that marketers understand these rules."
Virgo Publishing produces the trade magazines HSR: Health Supplement Retailer and Natural Products Industry Insider, as well as the SupplySide East, SupplySide West and Focus on the Future trade shows and conferences.
The National Training Institute is a division of Virgo Publishing that develops and provides online training and certification programs in a variety of industries.