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The Kil Report
The Kil Report: Alternative Medicine,Scientific Method, Evil Skeptic, Scams, Fraud, Hoaxes, Critical Thinking, Enforma
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Umps Concur: Yes, Garvey Walks

By David Glück
Posted on: 11/19/2004

What the court of appeals finds to be sufficient research, Kil finds absolutely pathetic.

“LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 /PRNewswire/ — In a decision that limits the circumstances under which an advertising spokesperson can be held responsible for product claims, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena has ruled that former baseball star Steve Garvey is not liable for statements he made while appearing in two infomercials for weight loss supplements.”
Dear Steve,

I guess hardy congratulations are in order for you now. You won the FTC’s appeal on the lower court’s decision that allows celebrity endorsers to say that they did all the necessary research into the product that they are endorsing to make sure the product is what it claims to be. Of course, the court didn’t put it that way. What they essentially said was that they believed that you did all you could and so could not be held responsible for the Enforma Products lies. They say that justice is blind. In my opinion, the decision of the appeals court in this case is proof positive on that. The law is a funny thing. I would have bet against your winning (for reasons that I stated in my previous letter to you) but I guess that is a moot point now.

It seems the crux of the thing is that they believed that you did all you could do to test out for yourself that the product was of value to dieters. That included trying the product, doing research on the ingredients, including reading the pyruvate study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reading Enforma’s literature and talking to some people, supplied to you by Enforma, to tell you how they lost weight on the product. Well, I read the pyruvate study too and an evaluation of the study that concluded in this way:
Nevertheless, at this point in time, pyruvate should be dismissed as nothing more than a too-good-to-be-true supplement fad.

— “Pyruvate: A Comprehensive Review,” by William Sukala, CSCS.
But I guess you missed that…

Oh, and tell me: did you go on the little diet that was sent out with the bottles of Fat Trapper and Exercise in a Bottle? If so, how did you determine that it was the pills that worked? And did you notice that the diet did not say that you could eat anything you wanted to and still lose weight, contrary to the claims you made on the infomercials that you hosted? Heck, the diet wasn’t even mentioned on the Enforma ads.

Anyhow, the way I read this ruling, which I have mentioned before, is that they had to believe you because being an idiot is not against the law. I’m sure you believed Enforma was on the up-and-up even as you stood there, on camera, hawking their product next to a an actress, who was introduced by you as a nutritionist. Nothing fishy there…

There are lawyers in the ad industry who have said that this is an important case because it serves warning on celebrity endorsers to research the products they are hawking. Otherwise, they could be held responsible for their statements about the products. But frankly, I don’t see it. Not if what counts for research into the claims of the product are what you claimed to have done when looking into the Enforma products for yourself. Here, there seems to be a hole in the law that rivals a hit into the gap. The allowance for being gullible (or stupid) leaves the question of personal research in a somewhat fuzzy state, in my opinion.

Let’s call it the “Garvey Gap,” which leads to the “Garvey Defense.” I like that. Just say you did the research, and you’re in the clear. That is the Garvey Defense. Neat! The best part is, who can prove that you didn’t do the research? And even if you did do it and came to all the wrong conclusions about the product, it doesn’t matter because they will take who you are into consideration. If you’re a baseball jock, for example, and unqualified to evaluate scientific claims (the Garvey Gap) any lawyer defending a celebrity endorser can refer to the FTC v. Steve Garvey case and secure a win using the Garvey Defense. And while the “Garvey Defense” may not have quite the same ring as the “Twinkie Defense” it’s still something to be proud of, don’t you think?
The Court also upheld the finding of the District Court that Garvey did not provide an “endorsement” as defined by the FTC, because the Commission failed to present any facts establishing that consumers were likely to believe that Garvey’s statements reflected his own opinions, rather than the manufacturer’s.

Why the hubbub about the research you did if your opinions don’t really matter? Why have Steve Garvey endorse a diet product at all? And again I ask, was it Steve Garvey or Steve Garvey playing Steve Garvey who said of the product, “The Enforma System really works,” and “There’s nothing complicated about it. Just a few capsules and you’re freed forever from the endless cycles of dieting and guilt, dieting and guilt.” As the star of the infomercial, who were the viewers being asked to trust if not you? I am not a legal expert but sheesh, your lawyers must have been good. Again, the law is a funny thing. Apparently, common sense carried little weight over the appellate court’s decision.

So, even though Enforma chose you because you are buff, and your years in baseball should have taught you something about nutrition and health, making you a credible, if not an expert spokesperson for their product, in the end the law sees you as just another celebrity doofus reading a script for money. Oh well…

Steve, we have come a long way in our little Enforma journey. So, let me cut to the chase: I want you to know that every bit of sarcasm I may have expressed in this series letters was intentional and hopefully hit the intended mark. I can honestly say that I hold you in the lowest regard. I do not believe for a second that you didn’t know exactly the value the Enforma System would have to those who bought it based on your word. The only other thing I could believe is that you really are an idiot, and I have never thought that for a second. You are just greedy. Like all conmen are.

As always, it takes those willing to suspend reason to make a con successful. And there is a seemingly endless supply of desperate dieters looking for a magic wand or a couple of pills to ease the pain of dieting sensibly or facing the pain of not being as perfect as the bikini-clad girls in the infomercial you starred in, Steve. A commercial intended to make women feel degraded in order to create a need for the magical cure you hawked. (Remember the woman on the sidewalk?)

But I can’t lay all of that entirely at your feet. The media has been in the business of creating and perpetuating this cultural bias forever. What I can say is that those who take the active role of cynically pandering to that kind of bias for the purpose of reaping in ill-gotten gains are beneath contempt. Promoting health is one thing. Promoting a false, and therefore unattainable ideal of what counts for beauty in our culture for the purpose of cheating people is another. And you have been guilty of that too. Nevermind that the pills don’t work…

I Guess I have nothing left to say to you Steve, beyond hoping that you can find a more honest way of cashing in on your celebrity in the future. In the meantime, take heart. You won. The successful judgment for you, along with your name, will probably be cited in the halls of justice for some time to come…


David Glück
Skeptic Friends Network

Read or Add Comments about this Article

All Open Letters to Steve Garvey:
An Open Letter to Steve Garvey

Another Open Letter to Steve Garvey

Bottom of the 9th, down by 10 million

The Latest Letter to Steve Garvey

Garvey Walks

Umps Concur: Yes, Garvey Walks

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