I recently saw one of those acai berry/total cleanse diet ads pop up on my site from an ad service. Needless to say, I immediately took steps to have it blocked. Why? Because the acai berry diets that have been widely advertised have been reported as fraudulent and misleading.
Here is how they work: The ads note something along the lines of “I lost 40 lbs of belly fat in one month by following one simple rule” and usually include some logos for news sources, Oprah, and Rachel Ray, indicating that they have endorsed the information. If you click the ad, you will be taken to a site that looks like a blog telling you that, how by buying a few products, you too can quickly loose enormous amounts of weight. There are a fairly good number of these “blogs” floating around out there, all with the same format and all selling products.
Despite the ad’s inferences or claims, they are not endorsed by Rachel Ray and Oprah: Instead, these ads are capitalizing on various unrelated mentions of acai berries or juice on their programs. But be sure to be clear on this: Oprah and Rachel Ray do not endorse the diet products and methods in the weight loss ads. Read here for Oprah’s announcement on the matter, and here for Rachel Ray’s announcement.
Next is this problem: These “blogs” will proclaim that you can try the method free. Simply order a free trial and cancel if it doesn’t work. But these are subscription based trials. You provide a credit card number, and if you do not cancel properly, you will be charged. For some, canceling has proven to be difficult. There have been reports of the cancellation phone numbers not working or cancellation requests not being honored. To learn more about this read the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Warning, or see this CNN article.
Finally, there is no concrete evidence that these programs work: Think about it. If they did, the stuff would be on every drugstore shelf and Oprah and Rachel Ray really would be talking about them and endorsing them. The fact of the matter is that there is no magic fruit or pill for weight loss. Acai juice has some anti-oxidant properties and I think it tastes good as well, but it isn’t going to make you lose your belly fat in a matter of weeks, and a crushed up version in a pill isn’t quite the same as drinking a good juice. You could eat the bike in the picture that I used too, and you would get some great antioxidants and such—but you wouldn’t magically burn off 10 pounds.
I have taken steps to try to avoid having these ads appear on Beauty and fashion Tech and Girl Gloss. However, because I am under contract with third party ad servers, some might slip by. If you see any such ads on my sites, please know that I do not endorse them in any manner whatsoever. There are also other similar ads for products such as teeth whitening and wrinkle removing out there that, like the acai ads, lead to “blogs” with free trials of products. I also do not endorse those ads, but lack information on their business practices. I suggest treating them with skepticism.
(Added June 11, 2009) How to report an ad: I have made, and continue to make attempts to block these ads. I have asked that one be removed from Glam’s server (which they did). I also have blocked ones that show up through Google. The rub is that there are many different links, so they sneak past the blocks that way. I ask any reader that sees one of the ads on my site not to click it. Instead, right click it to get a pull up menu and select “copy link location.” Then please email that link to me at email@example.com. I can then go to google and block the ad. Please also note that some acai ads are legitimate. For example, there is nothing particularly wrong with a company seeking to sell acai juice. It is the fake blog diet and colon clease ads that are of most concern.
On a side note, why a picture of a veggie bike and not some acai berries? Well, I went to purchase a licensed photo of some berries and found them terribly overpriced. I guess a lot of people are making money from acai!
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