All parents think their babies rock. But when a company says its product will help a kid master reading Harry Potter during the potty-training years, it needs solid science to support those claims.
The FTC says Dr. Robert Titzer and his company, Infant Learning, Inc., deceived consumers with ads for Your Baby Can Read, a set of DVDs, books and word cards that cost around $200. These ads and other promotional materials promoted the program’s ability to teach babies as young as nine months to read — with their skills advancing to books like Charlotte’s Web by ages three or four.
Your Baby Can Read ads claimed that the program gave kids who used it more of a head start in school than those who did not. The ads included infants and toddlers appearing to “read” and testimonials from proud parents praising Your Baby Can Read’s effectiveness. Using charts, statistics and fancy-sounding terms in the ads, Dr. Titzer, a purported expert in infant research, emphasized that scientific proof backed the program’s results. It added up to a very impressive and convincing pitch — as indicated by the millions of dollars in sales for Your Baby Can Read.
According to the FTC, however, the proof didn’t live up to the promises.
When considering any product, take a claim of "scientific breakthrough" with a grain of salt. If it’s a true “scientific breakthrough,” isn’t it more likely that you’d be hearing about it first on the news — and not in an ad? If a company’s ad prompted you to pay for an empty promise, report it to the FTC.