Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Herbalife produces a range of weight management and health-related products, which are usually marketed and sold by independent distributors. Marketing communications offering opportunities to act as Herbalife distributors should make clear both the nature of the work involved, for example “distributor (of meal replacement product)”, and whether an initial outlay is required. See 'Recruitment and Business Opportunities: Business Opportunities'.
After an investigation into the Herbalife weight-loss products in 1997, the ASA accepted that Herbalife offers a meal replacement programme that can aid weight loss as part of a calorie-controlled diet. Marketers need not substantiate claims about the products provided they adhere to these guidelines:
• If a customer can order Herbalife directly after seeing a marketing communication for it, that marketing communication must include a clear statement that Herbalife is a meal replacement product that can aid weight-loss only as part of a calorie-controlled programme or diet.
• If a prospective customer is sent follow-up literature about the product, that literature must contain the above explanation about the product but the main marketing communication need not.
• Marketing communications for the weight-loss programme should not target individuals who are, or are likely to be, obese. Those that refer to the entire Herbalife programme may make realistic and representative weight-loss claims in testimonials provided the losses do not exceed 2lbs a week (Clause 51.10).
• Marketing communications should not state or imply: dieters cannot fail; weight loss is guaranteed; dieters can lose precise amounts of weight within a stated period; losing weight is easy; fat can be lost from specific parts of the body; weight lost will stay off and dieters can eat their favourite foods immoderately.
• Headline claims such as “Looking for a more natural way to lose weight?”, “Thinking about losing weight?”, “Want to lose weight?”, “Shape up now” and “You could control your weight now” are likely to be acceptable for Herbalife.
• Marketers who want to make claims about other health-related Herbalife products must be able to give CAP and the ASA information about those products. Claims that go beyond our accepted position for certain products will require substantiation (Rule 12.1).
• Marketing communications for non-weight-control-related Herbalife products, for example vitamins, must be supported by documentary evidence to show they meet the conditions of use associated with the relevant claim, as specified by the European Commission (Rule 15.7).