Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Help Me Howard: Before and After
We've all seen them, diet ads boasting big weight loss with before and after pictures to prove it, but one South Florida woman did an about-face when her face started popping up in an ad all over the Internet without her permission. Unable to stop it, she linked to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Kaitlyn Brown is young, healthy and in shape and stays that way the old fashioned way.
Kaitlyn Brown: "I like to stay fit. I go to the gym everyday with my fiancé to keep the body that I'm in, and I eat healthy mostly."
If you use the Internet, Kaitlyn may look familiar because this picture of her, when she had darker hair, shows up over and over.
Beth Brown: "To actually see my daughter's picture pop up and to continually, throughout the day, it made me more and more and more angry."
Kaitlyn is featured in an Internet ad as the after picture. As we pan over you can see her so-called before picture. One little problem with this larger girl: It's not Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn Brown: "I have no idea who that lady is. I've never seen her, wouldn't know who she is."
Beth Brown: "No clue. No idea. I've never seen that girl before."
This girl is supposedly Kaitlyn before she took a diet supplement, except Kaitlyn has never taken their diet pills, never heard of the diet company and has no idea how her picture showed up in their diet ad.
Kaitlyn Brown: "It could have been anyone, anyone in the crowd taking a picture of me standing next to someone. It could have been anything, it could have been me at a party. I couldn't tell you where they got the picture."
The picture upsets Kaitlyn and her mother for two reasons. The first:
Beth Brown: "They are using her photo illegally and without permission."
The second reason, Kaitlyn is opposed to diet pills.
Kaitlyn Brown : "I don't want girls, younger girls, to see it and be like that's what I want to look like, because I never did the diet pills. I worked hard, I ate good, I exercised, and you just have to work for it."
Beth then tried to stop the false advertisements and called the number on the ad.
Beth Brown: "And wanted to speak to a manager or supervisor to no avail. I was angry."
In fact, the ads started popping up even more, on newspaper websites, on gossip sites, any site targeting people who want to go from someone looking like this to someone like this.
Beth Brown: "Get it off the Internet. Get it off and make a public apology to the before girl and my daughter because they are not one in the same."
The laws governing the web are still being written, but, Howard, do they allow web advertisers to use your face without your permission?
Howard Finkelstein: "Whether it's a TV ad, a newspaper ad or a website ad, the law is clear. You cannot use someone's name, face or voice without their permission. If you do, you will have to pay them. The problem with the web is tracking down the person responsible."
The company producing the diet ad hid their web identity. We contacted several websites who were running the ad, they killed it. Then we contacted the company that sells the ad, they also killed it. Pictures of Kaitlyn are now off the web, and if the diet company tries the same thing again, Kaitlyn should contact the websites.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you can't track down the owner of the ads, contact the websites that display the ads. Ask them to take them down. If they don't, go to court and let a judge do it."
Kaitlyn's experience was an eye-opener for her, and she will never look at those before and after ads the same way.
Kaitlyn Brow: "I'll never believe one. If I look at an ad, I'll look and laugh, like, that's not them. Even if they remotely look alike, I won't believe it."
The web is wonderful, but if someone is misusing it, it can be incredibly difficult to stop. We have guys at Channel 7 who can take a computer apart and rebuild it. They could not track down the people behind this diet company. That's why Howard says contact the website running the ads because they can quickly delete the phony pictures.
On a diet that is nowhere near picture perfect? Don't browse around for a solution. Hit the link to us. Our before and after pictures are sadly the same.