Sometimes we just like to share things with our readers because they make us laugh.  Belly laughs out loud.  It has been some time since we shared an ad with you where we had to warn you to shut your door before you watched (last one was probably Dollar Shave or DirectTV) but here you go:

But since we are a law blog and not just a blog of funny things, we should include some lessons here. And so this ad makes us think about learning claims.  Programs that purport to help children or adults learn new or better skills have long been an enforcement focus.  They may not rise to the priority level of health or weight loss claims but have been on the regulatory radar screen for many years.  Back in the 1990s, the FTC brought cases against Zygon’s Learning Machine and Gateway Learning’s Hooked on Phonics with settlements requiring competent and reliable scientific evidence to support claims that a product will teach a particular skill such as reading or learning a foreign language.  The Center for Commercial Free Childhood has been very active in suggesting cases to the FTC to review.  And while there is no guarantee such complaints result in an investigation, they often will.  The most recent case involving learning claims brought by the FTC involved the system called Your Baby Can Read.  The FTC has made clear its position that educational or learning benefit claims require competent and reliable scientific evidence but similarly suggested claims that a learning product introduces certain content or exposes a user to certain concepts likely does not require the same high level of substantiation.

And sometimes products that make learning claims are reviewed for different reasons such as Legacy Learning, the guitar program with endorsements allegedly posted by employees or other third parties without disclosing material connections to the advertiser or Hooked on Phonics with allegations of not upholding promises in its privacy policy not to share PII with third-party marketers.  This suggests that when making claims like learning claims that fall in the FTC’s priority list that the staff will look more broadly at all of the company’s advertising and marketing practices.

So if you are a learning service company or toy manufacturer or reseller of such products, to keep from sinking in an FTC enforcement mess, carefully analyze your claims and make sure your substantiation fits the claims and that quantifiable or specific cognitive benefit promises are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence – the kind experts in the learning field would agree show the claims are supported.