Last month, prominent advertising watchdog, Truth in Advertising, Inc. (“TINA”), notified the California Food, Drug and Medical Device Task Force (the “Task Force”) in a formal complaint letter that Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop is violating a 2018 stipulated judgment that it entered into with the State of California.
The 2018 stipulated judgment prohibits Goop from, among other things, making false or misleading statements about a nutritional supplement or medical device and claiming that any nutritional supplement or medical device can diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure or prevent any disease without prior FDA approval.
In its letter, TINA claims that Goop is “deceptively marketing products as able to treat and/or mitigate the symptoms of several medical conditions including anxiety, depression, OCD, hormonal imbalances, and hair loss, as well as address the symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption” in violation of the 2018 stipulated judgment. To illustrate, TINA points to more than a dozen examples, including Goop’s $165 Edition 02 Shiso perfume, in which the ingredient descriptions claim that the perfume’s clove leaf ingredient helps to “improve memory,” while birch oil “treats OCD,” patchouli “dissipates” anxiety and depression, and agar wood/aloe wood “treats neurosis.” Similarly, Goop sells a “Yoga in a Cup” supplement on its website, which is marketed as able to relieve anxiety.
TINA’s letter states that despite a $145,000 monetary penalty and court order prohibiting Goop from making deceptive and unsubstantiated marketing claims, “Goop continues to deceive consumers with inappropriate health claims in order to sell products.” TINA’s letter urges the Task Force to re-open its investigation into Goop’s marketing and take “appropriate enforcement action.”
Takeaway: Advertisers should be aware that in addition to regulators and consumers, watchdog groups, including TINA will be reviewing advertising and sending letters to governmental organizations when it believes certain advertising is in violation of a truth in advertising law.