New York, NY – November 21, 2022 – To prevent a company from conveying to consumers the unsupported message that consumers can achieve significant wealth with minimum investment, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Cash App discontinue or modify its video commercial with Megan Thee Stallion telling consumers they can invest as little as a dollar alongside images of a coin going down and up, followed by her adding a gold bar to a stack of gold bars and saying that “with my knowledge and your hustle, you’ll have your own empire in no time.”
The claims at issue were challenged by NAD as part of its routine independent monitoring of truth and transparency in U.S. national advertising.
Cash App is a brand name of a financial services platform operated by Block, Inc. that provides a variety of financial payment and investment-related services, including allowing consumers to invest in stocks and Bitcoin.
“You’ll Have Your Own Empire in No Time”
NAD’s inquiry focused on whether the exaggerated statement “You’ll have your own empire in no time” is hyperbole that consumers would not take literally or conveys a message requiring support.
NAD noted that where an objective representation is made (i.e., termed in fact rather than opinion) regarding the performance or other tangible attributes of a product, that is sufficiently specific and material enough to create expectations in consumers, then substantiation for the claim is required.
Although the claim “You’ll have your own empire in no time” standing alone might be vague, non-actionable puffery, it is accompanied by images of bouncing coins beside accumulating gold bars. Further, NAD found that the express claim is made in the context of advertising touting that consumers can invest as little as $1 on Cash App, and thus appeals to an audience that may not be familiar with the risks associated with investing or the volatility associated with Bitcoin in particular.
NAD determined that while consumers may understand that they will not achieve the success of Megan Thee Stallion or create an empire, they could also reasonably take away the implied message that Bitcoin investing generates significant wealth with minimum investment, an objective message requiring support. According to NAD, there was no support for this message.
Further, NAD concluded that the audio (“Bitcoin is an investment” for which “the price can go “up and down by the hour”) and written (“Investing has risks: you may lose money”) disclosures in the video were not clear and conspicuous.
In its advertiser statement, Cash App stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations” and that it “has not hosted or distributed the video since March 31, 2022, and has no plans to do so in the future.” The advertiser further stated that it respectfully disagrees with NAD’s conclusion about the message conveyed by the video and noted that it “fully complies with all regulatory requirements regarding the sale of Bitcoin.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.