The New FTC Rules; I’m All For Them

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.

Oh if I had a quarter for all the debates I got into today regarding the new FTC Guides. Maybe it’s the journalist in me but I’m all for the update from 1980. A couple thoughts:

1. If you have to use an atypical example to promote your product then maybe it’s time to consider improving the product and then making the sale. It’s always easier to keep customers than get new ones, so why is anyone anywhere still intentionally over-promising and under-delivering? It ruins your brand reputation anyway.

2. Full disclosure. It’s a tenet of journalism that should absolutely apply to endorsements and advertisers. Branding these days is all about transparency anyway so don’t try to keep secrets. Again, in my opinion if you feel like you’ve got to hide funding or freebies etc then maybe it’s time to consider your ethics from the start.

If your opinion differs though, I’m always willing to hear the insight of other perspectives.

About the author: Entrepreneur with ten years of experience running a digital marketing agency out of New York City. I work with startups and brands such as Virgin Airlines, L2 Inc (Gartner), American Express, Fabletics, LOFT, and more. When I’m not helping companies increase their audience and revenues, I love to travel, sail, and read. I also moonlight as a bartender at a classic cocktail bar.

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