health care

Deceptive Ad Trends 2024 Touch Health, AI, D2C



Marketers of health products -- or should we say “alleged” health products? -- come under fire in two of the five “Deceptive Ad Trends 2024” published by nonprofit group Truth in Advertising ( The other trends touch on AI, “free” products/services, and airline fuel.

One area to watch is hormonal/menopause claims, says. This trend was largely based on its most popular 2023 ad alert about Happy Mammoth’s Hormone Harmony, “a supplement marketed to balance hormones as users ‘go through perimenopause, menopause, PCOS and their irritating symptoms such as cramps, hot flashes and mood swings.’”

Pursuant to FDA law, writes, “no company can market supplements claiming to balance hormones or to reduce, improve, help or assist with abnormal conditions associated with menopause without going through the agency’s rigorous review process.”



Consumers should also watch out for product claims of FDA approval and FDA clearance which “may be misleading, if not outright false.” The FDA, for instance, does not “approve” supplements, and while marketers of medical devices can get FDA clearance if it’s “substantially equivalent” to a product that’s already achieved clearance, warns that with clearance comes ad boundaries.

One of those boundaries is not to make it appear that the FDA favors or endorses a product, a violation says Top Dog Direct violated by using the FDA logo in ads for a BeActive Plus leg brace (for sciatica). “It worked so well, the FDA cleared BeActive Plus as a medical device,” a TV commercial for the product notes.

Other deceptive ad trends to watch in 2024, says, are AI, use of the word “free” and claims that aviation fuels are sustainable.

The group cited its court settlement with Roblox over the game platform’s use of AI bots “to manipulate and mislead consumers, including millions of children, into thinking they are interacting with real people.” It also cautions against fake reviews “as AI makes it easier for disreputable businesses to create persuasive reviews that sound like they were written by actual users.” cites HelloFresh’s Good Chop meat and seafood D2C business as currently running ads offering “free bacon for life” after previously advertising “free chicken wings for life.” Federal law states that marketers “must clearly and conspicuously disclose” any stipulations upfront and not in fine print, says the nonprofit, noting that in the first instance, “the wings were neither free nor did they last for life…The actual offer, only available to new customers with an autorenewing subscription purchase, only lasted a year and at any point the company could substitute the chicken wings for anything it wanted.”

As to those sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), they account for just 0.1% of airlines’ fuel worldwide, says, but airlines are touting their use “to appeal to eco-conscious consumers.” Lufthansa recently removed the line “Fly more sustainably” from one of its Google ads after a challenge from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. But, says, “the list is growing and includes names such as United Airline and Royal Dutch Airlines.”


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