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Some claims are not checking out with this MLM's marketing of its Breast Chek self-exam kit.
Plexus Worldwide¿, an Arizona-based Multilevel Marketing – a way of distributing products or services in which the distributors earn income from their own retail sales and from retail sales made by their direct and indirect recruits., is heavily marketing its Breast Chek kit in connection with Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its “Chek It America” campaign. But what really needs checking are the marketing claims.
“Throughout October, Plexus and the American Cancer Society are promoting awareness and prevention of the disease with Chek It America … ” says a report in the Direct Selling News, a trade publication.
The Breast Chek kit, according to Plexus, helps women find lumps more easily when performing self-exams through its “sensory touch magnification.” The product’s label claims it is “recommended by Doctors and Nurses.” This month, the company says, it will donate 25 percent of profits from all sales of the kit to the American Cancer Society.
But let’s stop there and unpack some of the claims made by Plexus regarding this self-exam kit. Plexus may be donating proceeds of sales to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and ACS is indeed promoting breast cancer awareness but it is not “teaming up” or in “partnership” with Plexus despite such claims found on social media.
Breast Cancer is a disease that affects some Plexus & the American Cancer Soc are teaming to bring awareness#plexus
— Paulette Tennison (@plsandrs) October 20, 2016
Evelyn Barella, ACS’s director of media relations, said that after being alerted to the issue by TINA.org it has requested that Plexus “discontinue using our name in association with promotion of this product.”
Barella also said that ACS “does not recommend breast self-examination as any early detection method for breast cancer because evidence does not show that regular breast self-exams help reduce deaths from breast cancer.” Nor does ACS endorse any product or service.
While Plexus also claims that the patented kit is “Recommended by Doctors and Nurses,” it provides no specifics on its website about exactly who is doing the recommending. Several distributors point to the fact that the product was featured on the syndicated daytime television show “The Doctors” as a selling point.
But a spokesperson for “The Doctors” told TINA.org that guests are informed in advance that an appearance on the show “does not constitute a recommendation or an endorsement.”
The spokesperson added that guests must request official authorization to use clips or images from the show for any purpose including advertising and marketing and the show has “not authorized the use of any PR or marketing clips, images or statements to Plexus or its distributors.”
Read Plexus Worldwide’s response to TINA.org’s request for comment here.
For more of TINA.org’s coverage of the marketing of cancer services and products click here.
This alert was updated on 10/26/16.
Rina Raphael, Los Angeles Times
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