We’ve all seen mainstream celebrities, fashionistas and beauty influencers promoting controversial products, including dietary supplements and rapid weight-loss pills. Some healthcare specialists have joined the social media space to stand against these misleading and potentially dangerous advertisements. Now companies and influencers involved in such campaigns are facing legal and financial consequences.
Last Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a legal complaint against detox tea brand Teami for “deceptive health claims” that its products would help customers lose weight, treat colds, clear blocked arteries, decrease migraines, and fight cancer. According to the US agency, which oversees consumer protection and regulates advertisement claims and practices, the company has violated the Federal Trade Commission Act in multiple ways.
From 2014 through mid-2019, Teami made more than $15.2 million from its products. Sales were boosted by influencer marketing campaigns, featuring celebrities and well-known web personalities with millions of followers. They promoted the detox tea on Instagram and other social media channels without “adequately” disclosing they are being paid by the brand, the FTC alleged.
The agency issued warnings to 10 influencers over their failure to comply with the endorsement guidelines. These include rapper Cardi B, singer Jordin Sparks, model Brittany Renner, TV host Adrienne Bailon, Darnell Nicole from WAGS Miami, actresses Alexa PenaVega, Jenicka Lopez and Leyla Milani, as well as Instagram influencer Princess Mae Love, and social media fitness trainer Katya Elise Henry. Reality star Kylie Jenner and singer Demi Lovato have also promoted the brand but did not receive warning letters.
In a statement issued last Friday, the FTC ordered Teami to stop these practices and return $1 million to “consumers who were harmed.”
“The internet is an important mechanism for facilitating the flow of information between businesses and consumers, so combatting the spread of misinformation online is critical,” the regulator concluded.