How New FTC Regulations Will Affect Chiropractic Advertising

In December, 2009, the Federal Trade Commission announced new regulations governing the use of customer and celebrity testimonials and endorsements. Although these regulations are primarily designed to target weight loss and alternative health advertisers, as well as “get rich quick” marketers, the ruling will also impact chiropractic advertising.

In the past, advertisers were able to feature a client’s (or patient’s) dramatic experience as the focal point of the ad. If the showcased result was not what most clients would achieve, the advertiser would simply include a disclaimer like, “These results are not typical,” or “results may vary.”

Now, any customer statement made in any form of media, as well as success stories and testimonials, must now represent the average results a consumer can expect to achieve. Also, you, as the advertiser, must be able to provide tangible proof of these results. In other words, statistically rare success stories are taboo.

This is pretty serious stuff.

So how do we, as chiropractors, protect ourselves and still deliver compelling chiropractic advertising that falls within the new guidelines?

First off, be sure any success story, or testimonial that you offer in any chiropractic advertising — is representative of the type of results you routinely see in your chiropractic office. Secondly, make sure you have adequate documentation of the facts. As well as documentation on other cases (preferable many of them) that would demonstrate this type of typical result.

Here’s the good news. If you’re like us, your chiropractic patients experience dramatic success stories every day. It’s not uncommon to have a patient come into our office, stooped over, in so much pain he can barely tie his shoes — then a month later the same patient strides into the office, a bounce in his step, bragging how great he feels.

We simply urge caution and a conservative approach.

As a side note — if you want to see how these legislative changes are affecting the diet industry, carefully consider the new Jenny Craig commercials. Gone are the claims of dramatic weight loss from well-known celebrity spokespersons. The newer ads still feature celebrities, but in a more conservative fashion. Now the celebrities encourage other dieters who have already lost five pounds, or joke with dieters about future plans to wear a bikini.

Finally, our own disclaimer…Please note we are not offering legal advice. We recommend you do any follow-up research, or obtain any legal advice you feel necessary, before taking action. Our intent is simply to offer information and to bring you up-to-date on legislation that may affect your chiropractic marketing strategies.

Read more about testimonial based chiropractic advertising.

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