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Results May VaryAshton Phillips / Nathan Gathright / Tiffany Burlingame / Shely Vargas / Estar Kanyua
Product Summary:• Hydroxycut products are popular dietary supplements used for weight loss.• Hydroxycut was linked to cases of liver damage.• Other than the health risk, Hydroxycut products have been linked to numerous false advertising campaigns.
Situation Summary:• The company that markets the product claims that “the supplement will help you lose unwanted body fat and make you look ripped and lean.”• On May 1, 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning after they noticed that some Hydroxycut products were being linked to liver damage and had been the cause of one reported death.
The Issues:• This case teaches consumers about harmful products, false claims. They provide the information to analyze products and advertising more effectively.• According to the Principles and Practices for Advertising Ethics, “Advertising, Public Relations, and Marketing Communications professionals have an obligation to exercise the highest personal ethics in the creation and dissemination of commercial information to consumers.”
• The ethical issue is that Hydroxycut continually pushed false advertising in order to gain profits. Instead of simply advertising its product, they showed unrealistic results, which over-glorified Hydroxycut in order to push more units verses considering the consumer’s best interest.
The problem:• The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) restricted the ability of the FDA to regulate dietary supplements. The FDA plays no role in ensuring that a dietary supplement works as advertised. The FDA can only do something after a product proves to be harmful.• The Federal Trade Commission ( FTC) is responsible for preventing unfair, deceptive, anticompetitive business practices in the marketplace.
• The FDA issued a warning against the use of Hydroxycut after it received 23 reports of serious health problems.• It’s Hydroxycut’s responsibility to ensure that its product testing is conducted ethically, and that the results are communicated properly.
Utilitarianism:• Hydroxycut perpetuated a warped perspective on body image. No one particular brand is responsible for the unhealthy body image often found in our culture, but companies should act responsibly when addressing this topic in media. An ethical position for Hydroxycut’s advertising would cause greater happiness among more people and be for any organization.
Communitarianism:• If the manufacturer of Hydroxycut valued its community of consumers, testing of ingredients to insure safety would have been a prominent concern, as well as creating advertisements that didn’t mislead the consumer by giving them false information.
Moral Relativism:• Moral relativism implies that if everybody else is doing it, we might as well too. Under the theory of moral relativism, the manufacturers of Hydroxycut practiced ethical decision-making because their advertisements and infomercials are as ludicrous as the other weight-loss supplement ads.
Future Recommendations:• Consumers need to be aware that the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements.• Hydroxycut needs to advertise honestly without promoting an unhealthy body image.