WASHINGTON -- Entertainer Pat Boone, who hawked an acne cream for its manufacturer, is now singing the blues -- trying to get out from under a federal order that could cost him big bucks.
Boone asked the Federal Trade Commission Friday to drop the 1978 order requiring him to make refunds to customers of the cream he endorsed in radio, television and print ads.
The order marked the first time the government had held a celebrity appearing in advertising to be accountable for the product to the point of being liable for refunds to buyers.
Boone appeared in ads for the mail order product, Acne-Statin, during 1977. The FTC said Boone received about 25 cents for every bottle of the treatment sold.
The agency alleged Boone and Karr Preventitive Medical Products Inc., which made the product, falsely claimed it could cure acne and was effective in anti-bacterial treatment of the condition.
As part of the settlement, the company was to set up a $175,000 fund for restitution to buyers of the product. Boone was ordered to contribute to the fund in an amount reflecting his proceeds from the sales.
No refunds have been made yet, the commission said.
Last year, the company petitioned the FTC to drop the refund provision, arguing the commission was discriminating against it in comparison to its competitors, and saying the company had modified its advertising.
Boone's petition said the order placed an unreasonable burden on him because it involved a requirement the commission has never imposed on another celebrity endorser.
He cited the same reasoning in asking the commission to drop a second part of the order that requires him to disclose in future advertising whether he has a financial interest in the product being sold.