Juice Plus fined €1 mill for deceptive marketing practices in Italy
Italy’s AGCM has fined Juice Plus €1 million EUR for deceptive marketing practices.
The AGCM’s investigation into Juice Plus began in July 2018.
The investigation revealed Italian Juice Plus affiliates were giving product testimonials without disclosing their business interests.
As per Juice Plus’ “8 commandments” marketing material, the company advised affiliates
there is no explicit … need for (you to) identify yourself clearly in communications as (a) seller.
Italian Juice Plus affiliates were also providing misleading information regarding the company’s product.
This information specifically pertained to unsubstantiated weight loss and medical treatment claims.
Specific medical claims observed by undercover AGCM agents were in relation to hypothyroidism, “flushes”, diabetes, “skin spots”, flu immunization and cystitis.
Weight loss claims ranged from mild to 24kg to 35 kg lost in three months.
According to the AGCM, much of Juice Plus’ marketing deception in Italy took place in secret Facebook groups.
For their part Juice Plus claimed to have no knowledge of their affiliate’s marketing efforts, including the secret Facebook groups (of which there were apparently hundreds).
In response to AGCM’s investigation and preliminary findings, Juice Plus claimed to have cracked down on its Italian affiliates.
The company also removed or modified several of its official product marketing brochures.
The AGCM acknowledged but rejected these resolutions as a conclusion to the case.
AGCM also rejected the notion that Juice Plus was not responsible for the conduct of its affiliates.
JuicePlus claims not to be responsible for the activity carried out
by their own sellers, as they operate independently.
In reality, as it appears in (collected) documents, the “autonomy” of (Juice Plus) sellers is subject to strict commercial supervision and subordination to the directives imposed by (Juice Plus executives), such as not to doubt the traceability of the work of the appointees to JuicePlus itself.
In concluding their investigation, AGCM found Juice Plus had violated several articles of the Italian Consumer Code.
Violations pertaining to deceptive marketing practices and unsubstantiated medical claims, were attributed directly to Juice Plus S.R.L in Italy, Juice Plus GmbH in Europe andJuice Plus corporate in the US.
In response to the AGCM fine, BusinessForHome reports that Juice Plus terminated its European leadership.
Juice Plus terminated a number of top earners, who have been with the company for many years, in what considered by many industry leaders, as an outrageous action.
Paolo Meucci, for years Juice Plus+ Nr. 1 in Europe, as the twin brothers Stefano Orru and Andrea Orru seems to be involved.
The problem concerns not only the communications and practices not complying with these partner franchise, but also their reluctance to change their practices despite months of awareness of the problem.
One positive to come out of AGCM’s investigation was that in 2017, 70% to 90% of Juice Plus sales in Italy were to retail customers.
For some reason though 2018 figures don’t appear available.