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Weight-Loss Products: Who Endorses Them Might Matter

By Maxine Shapiro, KERA 90.1 business commentator

Dallas, TX – What happens when a trusted celebrity endorses products? It all depends on the product and the person. Richard Dreyfuss is an amazing actor, but if I don't want to buy a Honda, I'm not going to just because he's their spokesperson. But Dr. Phil and weight-loss products - hot topic, hot celebrity. I'm Maxine Shapiro with KERA Marketplace Midday.

One of the more powerful tools to command respect in a name is to have the title "doctor" as a prefix. It worked for a while with Dr. Laura, until she offended just about everyone in earshot and her doctorate was in physiology. It wasn't long before advertisers were pulling ads from her show.

Dr. Phil McGraw is another story. He got his good reputation from someone who could have "Dog-Catcher" in front of her name and it would become a new sought-after career. Almost a regular on Oprah, Dr. Phil, as a clinical psychologist, became an immediate authority on everything from relationships to self-esteem. But a New York Times article reveals many are now questioning his authority in weight-loss.

Though his best-selling book is being praised by some to have sound reasonable advice - as a non-physician extending his program to endorsing weight-loss bars, shakes and even supplements, Dr. Phil may have crossed the line. And a few consumer product consultants fear his "I-really-care-about-you" persona might go right out the window if the audiences feel he's literally capitalizing on this trusting relationship.

I think it might be the opposite. There are more seekers of a new weight-loss product than there are people willing to change a lifestyle to lose the pounds.

The "Shape-Up" products are produced by Irving, Texas-based CSA Nutraceuticals. The website says 100 percent of all endorsement income goes to the Dr. Phil Foundation, fighting childhood obesity. When I tried calling CSA, their phone number was disconnected with no alternative number. I have some non-threatening questions to ask please about profit and margin and partnerships. For KERA Marketplace Midday, I'm Maxine Shapiro.


Marketplace Midday Reports air on KERA 90.1 Monday - Friday at 1:04 p.m.

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