Dateline Infomercial Expose Highlights Need For Due Diligence

Dateline Infomercial Expose Highlights Due Diligence Obligations

On Friday, September 15, 2006, NBC's Dateline aired a one-hour expose on creating an infomercial for a bogus product, which is a must read for anyone in the advertising community. Dateline went so far as to create a fake product - Moisturol - an oral ingestible purportedly for smooth skin. It's only ingredient - Nestlé's Quik - an ingredient Dateline's experts swore could not possibly work as an ingestible. Dateline was able to convince an infomercial production company to create a sensational script and shoot the advertisement for this unknowingly bogus item. What's more is that a board certified dermatologist endorsed the product on camera and women provided glowing testimonials - all for a product that did not and could not work.

The lesson from this expose is that anyone involved in advertising must undertake reasonable due diligence as to the efficacy of the product being promoted. The requirement to undertake due diligence is not limited to the marketer, but includes vendors, endorsers, suppliers, and creatives. Indeed, while scarcely mentioned in the program, Dateline did approach one infomercial production company who requested clinical studies behind the product. Presumably, following up with such a company would not make for a sensational story.

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