The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.
The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.
Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.
Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.
The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.
This means you, hashtagmenswear.
“Courtesy Of” is a series on This Fits in which I write about products that have been gifted to me for review. While I strive to be objective, I think it’s fairer to you, the readers, if I disclose when I’ve received merchandise for free.
A zipper is the last thing I expect to write about in a suit review, to say nothing of mentioning it in the opening sentence. But the zipper is a bit unusual on the trousers of the Tailored Fit Supernatural Wool suit that Lands’ End sent me, and it’s a detail that offers insight into the character of the garment.
The zipper, you see, is thick and sturdy, made by YKK. Although this shows Lands’ End didn’t cut corners by going with cheap zippers, that’s not unusual in and of itself. No, what’s strange is that the zipper is there at all. Larger and more substantial than any zipper on any tailored trousers that I’ve encountered, it’s the sort of detail you’d expect if I were reviewing premium denim, rugged outerwear or duffle bags—in other words, not the kind of zipper typically seen on a suit.
I mentioned the zipper to Lands’ End Men’s Design Director J Henley last week. “Menswear relies on details and nuances,” he observed. “Subtlety is rarely lost on a discerning consumer. I like to look beyond the obvious like fabric, color, pattern and fit and focus on details that are often overlooked, or are the first place to cut costs from a garment. In this case, the heavier zipper slider was a result of my disdain for small coil zippers on trousers. I wanted something masculine and a bit stronger.”
The rare honest review on Tumblr.