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FTC. Testimonials.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the  consumer watchdog that engages in  consumer protection.  In the 1970s, the FTC enacted the Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  They were first amended in 1980, and then again more recently in 2009. The most recent change came as a result of the explosion of social media and the use of mobile devices.
Recently I listened in on a LinkedIn conversation among marketers. Several of them insisted they did not need to know about the Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, because they were “only bloggers” and someone told them the “FTC didn’t care about bloggers.”  Once again I realized that while the Internet is replete with some valuable information, it is also filled with useless inaccuracies.  So allow me to set the record straight as to who needs to know about the Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  If you fall into one of the following categories,  you should read and understand the Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising:

  1. Both the endorser and advertiser, because if the endorsement is found to be deceptive, they BOTH will be liable
  2. Anyone who advertises to consumers
  3. Anyone who markets using either social media or an affiliate

Here are a few KEY Endorsement Requirements:

  1. Endorser MUST be a real person, not computer generated;
  2. If you use an actor instead of an actual consumer, you must clearly & conspicuously disclose that information;
  3. The endorsement must accurately reflect endorser’s belief and experience at all times throughout the life of the AD campaign;
  4. The endorser must have reasonable basis for the claims they make;
  5. Any claim made where the endorser says they use the product must be true at all times;
  6. Advertiser don’t have to disclose that a celebrity or an expert has been paid to endorse a product UNLESS the existence of the relationship is not reasonably expected.

There is a lot more to know. For more information check out the actual Guides on the FTC website, the Endorsement Guide FAQs, and the Dot.com Disclosures. If you need actual legal advice, instead of just legal information, feel free to contact an attorney admitted to practice in your state, who can counsel you accordingly.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts about the Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising? Join my conversation on my law Facebook Fan Page, my law Twitter page, one of my LinkedIn Groups, and in my Google+ Circles.

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