Posts Tagged ‘FTC’
Do these kids even know the difference between “ad” and “editorial?”
Regulators at the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (which operates under the Council of Better Business Bureaus) have heard PR and marketing talking a big game about “content”, but they aren’t sure exactly where to draw the line between “paid promotion” and “editorial”. In other words, they think your latest sponsored post looks suspiciously out of place, so they might just have to give it the once-over.
Should you be worried?
When we hear the words “deceptive marketing”, we generally think of campaigns that promote the blatantly false or grossly exaggerated “benefits” of a product (i.e. the butt-sculpting superpower of Sketchers Shape Ups or the death-cheating health claims of POM juice). In cases like these, the offending parties are held accountable by the FTC for intentionally misleading consumers. The public doesn’t like being lied to, and we rely on governing bodies and uniform regulations to protect us.
But what about the marketing we encounter every time we visit a grocery store? In our increasingly health-conscious society, more and more people are checking labels to make sure they are feeding their families the most nutritious, least harmful foods possible. But what many don’t realize is that labels reading “all natural” or “farm fresh” don’t necessarily mean what people think they mean; in fact, due to a lack of regulation, many such buzz words mean virtually nothing at all.
We recently told you about the FTC’s crackdown on POM‘s “wonderful” health claims. But POM is by no means the only player in the how-far-can-we-push-this ad game. Now, via 24/7 Wall Street, we bring you a list of America’s most misleading product claims in recent memory (the list is theirs, the comments are ours).
1. Topping the list (surprise, surprise), is POM Wonderful and its promises that consumers could literally “cheat death” by sipping pomegranate juice out of a neat looking bottle. While the juice has been shown to provide some health benefits, the FTC found that POM’s claims were not substantiated by two randomized controlled trials — as required by law before such health claims can be made — and were therefore misleading and deceptive. But don’t feel too duped, America; we weren’t the first to be intrigued by pomegranates. Just ask Persephone.
“America needs a robust privacy framework that preserves consumer trust in the evolving Internet economy while ensuring the Web remains a platform for innovation, jobs, and economic growth. Self-regulation without stronger enforcement is not enough. Consumers must trust the Internet in order for businesses to succeed online,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.
This is a preliminary report, with legislative recommendations expected next year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The suggestions would alert consumers about how their information is used, align a variety of privacy guidelines, and revisit the 1986 wiretapping law. The report is now open for public comment.
In an effort to douse the heated discussion over online privacy, a number of tracking firms have formed the Open Data Partnership. The Partnership will allow consumers free access to review the info that’s been gathered about them and opt-out of being tracked all together. It launches in January and it’s expected that other tracking firms as well as large Internet companies like Yahoo will join once it’s live, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The government has told us that we have to do better as an industry to be more transparent and give consumers more control. This is a huge step in that direction,” Scott Meyer, CEO of Better Advertising Project, which is leading the effort, told the Journal.
And you thought “Do Not Call” was cool. Meet “Do Not Track.”
A Federal Trade Commission report today suggests allowing consumers to decide whether or not their data can be collected as they move around online. It looks at the framework necessary to “balance the privacy interests of consumers with innovation that relies on consumer information to develop beneficial new products and services.”
Self-regulation in the industry just hasn’t cut it, the report says. The FTC will therefore make policy recommendations and “take action” against companies that violate consumer privacy “especially when children and teens are involved,” it quotes FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz saying.
Flowtown: How To Market Like a Pro on Twitter
Chicago Tribune: FTC cracks down on fake online endorsements; Agency attempts to punish fake reviews, force disclosure
New York Times: After Building an Audience, Twitter Turns to Ads
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has offered its proposed revisions to the Green Guides and is accepting public comment through December 10, 2010. The suggestions include new guidance for marketers that are intended to curb misleading environmental claims like the use of product certifications and seals of approval and assertions about “renewable energy” and “carbon offset.”
In recent years, businesses have increasingly used ‘green’ marketing to capture consumers’ attention and move Americans toward a more environmentally friendly future. But what companies think green claims mean and what consumers really understand are sometimes two different things. The proposed updates to the Green Guides will help businesses better align their product claims with consumer expectations.
As our brother blog AgencySpy reports, it seems there is even more muddiness around the FTC’s “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” which were recently updated to include social media channels.
Case in point: the above Tweets by tennis star Serena Williams. Williams has been a celebrity brand ambassador for Nabisco for more than a year. And one of her Tweets does state that she is “shooting a campaign” for the brand. However, not all of Williams’ 1 million plus followers may know that she is a paid endorser, especially if they see the second Tweet out of context.
Richard Cleland, Assistant Director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices, told AgencySpy: “Although we do not generally comment publicly about ongoing advertising campaigns, it seems pretty clear that Serena Williams’ tweet about Nabisco Calorie Pack is sponsored advertising. (She says that she is shooting a campaign for Nabisco). When it is clear from the context of a communication that the celebrity is being paid, an additional disclosure is not required.”
It seems the takeaway here is: you have to disclose, except when you don’t have to.
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