Facebook, Oprah and Acai. Oh my.

The Internet in general and Facebook in particular has been awash in ads promoting Acai- and Resveratrol-based supplements over the last few months, most of which have led into hefty continuity programs with payouts in the $35 – $45 range. Many affiliates and not a few CPA networks have been making big bucks on these offers.

There have been two problems looming though: an increasing number of customer complaints, and the unauthorized use of video clips featuring celebrities on the offer landing pages. Both of these seem to be slowly coming to a head.

First, customer complaints. One of the biggest Acai advertisers has been FWM Laboratories in Florida who promote Acai Elite, among other products. Given the implied endorsements by celebs such as Oprah and Dr Oz, conversion rates are reported as being very respectable. Much moolah has been made.

The bad news is that way back on March 6th, Local 10 News in Miami was already reporting that FWM were under investigation by the Florida state attorney general and that the dumpster behind the FWM office was full of products returned by hundreds of dissatisfied customers from around the country.

But FWM just kept going, pumping out their offers through a variety of networks. Forbes reports that in May, in spite of the local news reports, FWM’s Resveratrol Ultra web site drew 833,000 unique visitors. And while that was happening the Better Business Bureau accumulated almost 3,000 customer complaints. The net result? FWM Laboratories has perhaps the worst corporate Google SERP I’ve ever seen. But so far it seems that no charges have been brought and the directors of FWM are…elusive.

And so for FWM it seems that the Acai-Resveratrol joyride is coming to an end, but the lesson is that any affiliates promoting Acai and Resveratrol offers need to be careful too. Affiliates have typically not been held liable for the excesses of advertisers up until now, but with the FTC looking at introducing new rules in this area, the situation is changing. And so we come to celebrity endorsements.

In addition to the problems that Dr Oz has been having with regard to Resveratrol, Oprah herself made some waves a couple of weeks ago when her attorneys apparently subpoenaed 25 Illinois-based affiliates (membership may be required) who have been running Acai offers on Facebook and using Oprah’s divine image in the process. There is little more than speculation about intentions in these cases and it seems likely that they will end up being little more than cease and desist actions. But it has certainly caught the attention of a number of super-affiliates.

If you’re an affiliate promoting these offers, be careful out there.

In closing, and for those of us who find our entertainment where we can, much pleasure is to be gained on the ComplaintsBoard web site, where complaint after complaint about FWM Laboratories can be seen side-by-side with a big AdSense unit promoting – what else? – Acai-offer after Acai-offer.

I’m sure those ads are converting extremely well. Google’s contextual analysis engine in action is a marvelous thing to behold.