Truth in Advertising (organization)
|Legal status||501(c)(3) nonprofit|
TINA.org (TruthinAdvertising.org) is an independent, non-profit, advertising watchdog organization whose mission is to empower consumers to protect themselves and one another against false advertising and deceptive marketing. TINA.org was founded in 2012 and received its initial funding from Karen Pritzker and Michael Vlock through their Seedlings Foundation, which supports programs that nourish the physical and mental health of children and families, and fosters an educated and engaged citizenship. TINA.org is headed by Bonnie Patten, who has served as its Executive Director since its founding.[dead link]
Legal efforts and investigative journalism
On March 28, 2013, TINA.org took action against NourishLife, LLC after finding that the company was using a number of deceptive marketing tactics to sell a potentially harmful supplement for children with speech delays. The organization sent legal complaint letters to the company’s CEO as well as to the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Illinois Attorney General, urging each of them to take action. On Aug. 14, 2013, the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau recommended that the company discontinue and amend certain claims used to market the product. The company has since corrected its website and has begun amending its product packaging. TINA.org’s investigation and criticism of Vemma, which makes the energy drink Verve and enlists students ostensibly to sell its products, has been cited and quoted in New York Post articles that raised questions about whether Vemma is running a legitimate multi-level marketing business or an illegal pyramid scheme. A subsequent class-action lawsuit against Vemma cited TINA.org's reporting of numerous complaints about Vemma that have been submitted to the Federal Trade Commission.
On May 5, 2019, Truth in Advertising filed a complaint with the FTC regarding Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s continued use of false Made in the USA marketing. In March 2020, the FTC announced a settlement with Williams-Sonoma. The company has agreed to stop making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated ‘Made in the USA’ claims and is required to pay $1 million to the FTC.
On November 12, 2019, Truth in Advertising filed complaints against Neurocore, a “brain training” company backed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. TINA's two complaints were with the Food and Drug Administration for unapproved medical devices and the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive marketing.
- "TINA.org in the news - Truth in Advertising". Truth in Advertising.org. May 23, 2020. Archived from the original on April 26, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
- "Who's protecting the consumer?". Fox Business. 2013-10-11. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
- "A New Connecticut-Based Website Works to Uncover False Advertising" Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine, Gregory B. Hlady, CT.com, April 3, 2013
- "Seedlings Foundation, Branford, CT". seedlingsct.org. Archived from the original on October 25, 2019. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
- "Company That Touted Products' Ability to Treat Children's Speech Disorders Settles FTC Charges It Deceived Consumers". Federal Trade Commission. 9 February 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- "Complaint Letter to the FDA". TruthInAdvertising.org. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
- "NourishLife revokes Speak claims to follow National Advertising Division recommendations", Maggie Hennessy, NutraIngredients USA.com, Oct. 15, 2013
- "Snake oil for the 21st century; Health claims that are too good to be true” ConsumerReports.org, September 2013
- "Verve energy drink turning college students into sales force", Michelle Celarier, New York Post, Sept. 29, 2013
- "Verve sweetens deal for college salesmen", Michelle Celarier, New York Post, Oct. 7, 2013
- "Vemma Verge Energy Drink Billing Class Action Lawsuit", Anne Bucher, Top Class Actions, Nov. 18, 2013
- "Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP cited for "illegal health claims" by watchdog group: Truth in Advertising called GOOP's health claims "unsubstantiated" and "misleading"". Salon.com. August 24, 2017.
- "Watchdog group accuses Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop of 'deceptive' marketing claims". ABC News. August 24, 2017.
- Laura Smith, Esq.; Bonnie Patten, Esq. (May 21, 2019). "Williams-Sonoma, Inc.'s Continuing Use of False Made in the USA Marketing" (PDF). tina.org. Truth in Advertising. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 24, 2019. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
- Kreidler, Jim (April 1, 2020). "Williams-Sonoma: Made in the USA?". Federal Trade Commission. Archived from the original on April 4, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
- "TINA.ORG FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST 'BRAIN TRAINING' COMPANY NEUROCORE". tina.org. Truth in Advertising. November 12, 2019. Archived from the original on May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
- Laura Smith, Esq.; Bonnie Patten, Esq. (November 12, 2019). "Neurocore, LLC's Unapproved Medical Device" (PDF). tina.org. Truth in Advertising. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
We write to file a complaint with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration against Michigan-based “brain training” company Neurocore, LLC1 for its marketing, use, and sale of unapproved medical devices.
- Laura Smith, Esq.; Bonnie Patten, Esq. (November 12, 2019). "Neurocore, LLC's Use of Unsubstantiated Medical Treatment Claims" (PDF). tina.org. Truth in Advertising. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
Neurocore’s deceptive marketing is used to attract vulnerable consumers, many of whom struggle with difficult psychiatric disorders, are caring for children who struggle with such disorders, or are seniors dealing with age-related memory loss, to its Brain Performance Centers. The consumer harm associated with deceiving these susceptible populations is of great concern and must be stopped.