Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing

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FTC staff answers questions about MLMs

Multi-level marketers sell a wide variety of products and services and they structure their companies in different ways. But there’s a lodestar that all industry members can use to navigate through issues that may arise – and here it is:  Core consumer protection principles apply to all MLMs. FTC staff has just released business guidance to help MLMs apply those core principles to their business practices.

2017: The consumer protection year in review

One Direction had a hit with a song called “18,” but the FTC’s recent law enforcement and policy initiatives suggest that the agency will continue to pursue many directions in its efforts to protect consumers in ‘18. (Sorry. We’re expecting a fresh shipment of pop culture references in January.) In case you missed them – and in no particular order – here are ten FTC consumer protection topics of note from 2017.

Advertisers should be uneasy about unproven disease claims

The “before” photo showed a silver-haired lady in a wheelchair with a hand on her furrowed brow. “24 hours after” and she’s smiling and knitting on the sofa, thanks to a dietary supplement proven in a 1200-person clinical study to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of joint pain, hypertension, diabetes, and depression. And how’s this for a bonus? Users can “easily lose between 8-13 lbs. per week.”

NextGen’s ad claims: Isn’t it ironic?

Like Alanis Morissette’s “rain on your wedding day” or “a free ride when you’ve already paid,” the FTC’s lawsuit against Florida’s NextGen Nutritionals, LLC, Anna McLean, Robert McLean, and related companies – in addition to challenging a number of claims as false or deceptive – includes three allegations that could be characterized as ironic.

Fauxmats, false claims, phony celebrity endorsements, and unauthorized charges

Online news reports appeared to feature the miraculous results celebrities like Will Ferrell and Paula Deen achieved from muscle-building supplements, weight loss products, and other merchandise. But according to the FTC, those “news reports” were deceptively formatted ads and the claims about “miraculous” results were false or misleading. And those weren’t the only secrets hidden within the promotions.

Is that B2B “free” offer really free?

If you own a small business or are active in a nonprofit, the alleged modus operandi of New York- and Illinois-based A1 Janitorial Supply Corp., three other companies, and two individuals should sound a warning. According to the FTC, the defendants called offices to offer a free sample of a cleaning product – but then cleaned up in an altogether different way.

Lone Star, but united partners

Everyone knows that The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. But did you know that The AG’s team is a partner’s dream, deep in the heart of Texas?

That’s the tune we’re humming to honor our colleagues at the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Texas Attorney General – recipients of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Partner Award. The Award recognizes their extraordinary contribution to our shared mission to fight fraud and deception in the marketplace.

FTC says company didn’t have support for “organic” mattress claims

Dads and Moms want what’s best for their babies, so some companies feature adjectives like “organic” or “natural” in ads for infant gear. Those are among the terms Illinois-based Moonlight Slumber used to sell its baby mattresses online and at some of the nation’s biggest retailers. But according to an FTC complaint, when it came to backing its mattress claims with proper support, the company was asleep at the switch.

How an “invention promotion” outfit demoted the truth

It sounds like there was some “inventing” going on at Florida-based invention promotion firm World Patent Marketing, but a Preliminary Injunction in a case brought by the FTC suggests it wasn’t the kind that unsuspecting consumers bargained for when they forked over millions of dollars based on the defendants’ misleading promises about patenting and promoting their products.

Three FTC actions of interest to influencers

If you have any influence over influencers, alert them to three developments, including the FTC’s first law enforcement action against individual online influencers for their role in misleading practices. According to the FTC, Trevor Martin and Thomas Cassell – known on their YouTube channels as TmarTn and Syndicate – deceptively endorsed the online gambling site CSGO Lotto without disclosing that they owned the company.

Who won the FTC Criminal Liaison Unit’s Consumer Shield Award? Here’s a clue.

Many historians acknowledge it as the oldest federal law enforcement agency, tracing back to 1772. Benjamin Franklin was integral to its establishment. And the FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit (CLU) is proud to present one of its employees with the Consumer Shield Award, which recognizes outstanding work by a law enforcement officer in fighting consumer fraud.

Ad agency liability: FTC looks to conduct, not the grey flannel suit

According to the “Mad Men” stereotype, you could spot an old-school advertising agency executive by the tailored wardrobe and expense account lunch. A lot has changed in the ad game, but two truths remain: 1) More than 50 years of FTC cases establish that ad agencies may be liable for their role in deceptive campaigns; and 2) Companies that may not describe themselves as “ad agencies” may still be held responsible for illegal acts or practices. In other words, the FTC looks to the facts, not the grey flannel suit.

FTC alleges ISO, sales agents laundered millions in credit card charges

Consumer scams need four things to survive: food, water, air – and access to the credit card system. Credit card networks build protections into the system to engage lawful businesses while keeping an eye out for fraud. When people use tactics to try to work around those protections, law enforcers take notice.

Kvetch and release

They say “Nobody likes a complainer,” but don’t you believe it. For years, the FTC has encouraged consumers to speak up about questionable practices. We use those complaints in lots of different ways – for example, to spot emerging forms of fraud, to help set FTC priorities, and to bring law enforcement actions. Today we’re announcing a significant expansion in how we use complaint data in the ongoing fight against what some people view as Consumer Enemy #1.

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