New FTC Marketing Guidelines

For several years now, the Market Health Network has prided itself on being an industry leader in online marketing compliance. We continually strive to keep you, our valued affiliate, informed of the latest regulatory trends, and provide practical advice on implementing any new rules. As such, we would like to inform you of the latest set of guidelines published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that may impact your business. 
 


Last week, the FTC published its final revisions to the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which will go into effect on December 1, 2009. While the FTC had addressed this issue in the past, the latest revisions tackle the use of endorsements and consumer testimonials in online marketing, with a focus on celebrities and bloggers.

The Guides address all “endorsements” i.e., advertising messages which may be understood as the opinion of someone other than the sponsoring advertiser, from the perspective of consumers. All messages of this type, regardless of whether they originate from consumers, celebrities, groups or organizations, are all classified as endorsements. 

The following is a list of the most important revisions made in the Guides:

* Endorsements must reflect the honest opinions and true experience of the endorser. If paid actors are used, this fact must be disclosed.

* Endorsements may not contain any representations which would be deceptive, or could not be substantiated, if made directly by the advertiser.

* Endorsements must be representative of what consumers can reasonably expect to achieve. Any claim made by the endorser must reflect the opinion or experience of a significant proportion of consumers. Disclaimers like “results not typical” are no longer sufficient.

All material connections between the advertiser and the endorser (including research or medical organizations) that consumers would not expect must be disclosed, including free products or monetary compensation.


The FTC Press Release may be found here:

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm



The full text of the Guides may be found here:


http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf

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