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Field Reports

1 Oct, 2005 By: Thomas Haire, Nicole Urso Reed Response

ITV Direct, Sea Vegg Presidents Respond to ERSP Findings, FTC Referral

WASHINGTON, D.C. and BOSTON — The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation (ERSP) program referred the infomercial produced by Boston-based ITV Direct for the Sea Vegg nutritional supplement to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for non-compliance with ERSP guidelines. In a related development, ITV Direct has been expelled from membership in the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), the creator of the ERSP.

The compliance proceeding stemmed from an earlier inquiry in which ERSP requested substantiation for several core claims in the infomercial. A statement from the ERSP says these claims included: "rebalances the thyroid."; "helped my mother's MS."; "Incredibly the destruction of these (cancerous) tumors was observed to take place without affecting normal cells."; and "We have all the science behind it." The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) administers the ERSP.

In the original inquiry, ERSP concluded that the marketer did not conduct any studies on the advertised product, nor did it conduct testing on the ingredients at the same strength in which they are included in the product.

"I provided more than 20 years of scientific literature — and 2,000 studies on marine algae and seaweed and its health effects to ITV," retorts Scott Kennedy, president and CEO of FarmaSea®Health LLC, maker of SeaVegg, when asked about the ERSP's claims. "This is a kangaroo court of the highest prominence. Peter Marinello's (the ERSP lawyer involved in the case) expertise is in marketing law. He is unqualified to speak to the science in this product. I believe ITV Direct is being used as a sacrificial lamb as it relates to SeaVegg."

Initially, ITV Direct agreed to "immediately modify our Web site and take ERSP's recommendations under consideration." After six weeks of further monitoring, ERSP found no changes to the infomercial and opened a compliance inquiry, informed ITV Direct of its concerns. It says the company informed it that it was currently involved in litigation with the FTC and would continue running its original show. ERSP then referred the matter to the FTC

Donald Barrett, president and CEO of ITV Direct, contends ERSP made claims against the show without scientific review. "It is impossible that ERSP representatives were able to review the thousands of pages of information we submitted without a scientist on staff," he says. "The FTC always asks for a scientist to review claims. In this case, it's one lawyer who says the claims are false. ERSP didn't follow its rules."

Cmedia/ATC Merger Complete; Respond2 Companies Garner 13 ERA Award Noms

PORTLAND, Ore. — Respond2 Communications Inc., the largest wholly owned full-service DRTV conglomerate in the United States announces the merger of two of its subsidiaries — Cmedia and ATC Agency Services — has been completed. The combined entity retains the Cmedia name, represents more than $200 million in annual media billings projected for 2005 and will operate offices in Portland and Philadelphia.

 Michelle Cardinal, CEO and Founder, Cmedia
Michelle Cardinal, CEO and Founder, Cmedia

"We've had a seamless transition in unifying the companies," says Michelle Cardinal, CEO and founder of Cmedia. "The merger further strengthens our media buying power and management expertise to help clients build successful DRTV campaigns and reach their ROI targets."

Also, Respond2 and its affiliated companies — which also include R2 Entertainment and Montana-based Production West — was honored with 13 nominations at the Electronic Retailing Association's (ERA) annual awards, including nods for both Best Short-Form of the Year (for AOL) and Best Long-Form of the Year (for Voom). The company won three awards during the Sept. 21 ceremony in Las Vegas.

Kalb's Short Film Skewers DR Troublemakers

The 11-minute movie gains acceptance at Chicago, L.A. festivals.

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