The proverbial chocolate pie is hitting Sensa in the face, magic diet sprinkles and all. Octavia Spencer, the actress who won an Oscar for her performance in “The Help,” is suing the weight loss company Sensa for alleged fraud and breach of contract. Sensa markets tiny crystals called “tastants,” designed to be sprinkled on all types of food with the intention of making the eater feel fuller faster, thus eating less. It’s supposed to be automatic portion control, and when Spencer lost five pounds on the stuff last August, a $1.25 million sponsorship deal quickly materialized, tastants fall as they may.
But as with all sponsorships, marketing campaigns hinge on a fickle balance of popularity and exposure, and Sensa decided Spencer wasn’t exactly a trending topic. The company wasn’t pleased with the lackluster social media response generated by Spencer’s dimming star, and began to find a way out of the contract.
First, they tried to trip up Spencer at one of her contractually obligated weigh-ins. (As per her contract, Spencer needed to maintain a 20 pound weight loss achieved during a four-week Sensa trial in February.) The actress had held up her end of the bargain, so Sensa decided to use Twitter to take her down. Spencer had been including the hashtag “spon” at the end of her Sensa related tweets—a practice that is required by law when being paid to endorse a product via social media, as per 2009 Federal Trade Commission guidelines. Sensa felt her tweets weren’t garnering enough retweets and favorites, citing the “spon” hashtag as a turn off to her 120,000 followers.
— octavia spencer (@octaviaspencer) July 23, 2013
In the span of seven months, Spencer tweeted about Sensa less than 10 times, and it’s unknown whether she was required to tweet more. The lukewarm twitter action seems to be due to the fact that her followers didn’t think she needed to lose weight.
@octaviaspencer why do u wanna lose weight? U r gorgeous and amazing the way u are right now love u so much <3
— ahmedismaeel (@ahmedismaeel37) July 23, 2013
Spencer only signed the original contract after Sensa agreed not to use her likeness in tabloid advertisements or before and after pictorials—caveats eventually ignored by the magic diet dust company. Now, Spencer is fighting to get the $700,000 Sensa owes her.
This isn’t the first time Sensa has been involved in a six-figure lawsuit. In November of 2012, Sensa was forced to pay $800,000 in penalties for their false weight loss claims. Spencer’s high-profile endorsement last Spring gave Sensa a reliable and trustworthy face for their damaged brand, but with their recent scheming, the Sensa image might be permanently tarnished. And with a meager 33 percent approval rate on our site, sprinkle at your own risk.
August 30th, 2013