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June 19, 2019

NEVER use these words in nutritional supplement copy

In 2015, the FTC fined a supplements company $9 million for deceptive weight loss claims.

In 2017, the FTC charged three supplement marketers false and misleading claims… running deceptive radio ads… and making a “risk-free” guarantee without disclosing ‘burdensome requirements for obtaining refunds’.

There are many, many more cases like these.

I guess the fact that nutritional supplements don’t need FDA approval is both a blessing and a curse

On one hand, it allows consumers to access more natural health solutions. But, it also opens the door to cowboys.

All this means that the FTC is hot on the heels of supplement companies who break the rules.

A good thing, of course, as the FTC protect consumers like you and I.

But even if you are an honest supplement marketer, it’s easy to find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

For starters, here’s a list of words and phrases you must never use in supplement advertising:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer (a big no-no!)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke

Now, avoiding words that lead to misleading customers is only the start.

Every supplement company should have its own legal team for advertising compliance.

And, as a copywriter, it’s best not to work with clients who don’t. Or at the very least, include a clause in your contract that says something like:

“I will make every effort to stay compliant, but cannot be held legally responsible for the promotion.”


Because everybody involved in the production of an ad is equally responsible, in the eyes of the FTC.

My new book goes into more depth on this.

The paperback version sells for $14.97 on Amazon, or (for the time being) you can download a complimentary digital copy when you join my email newsletter:

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