Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing

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(Con)tempting fate

We’re not lyricists, but had the 1972 hit “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” been addressed to defendants in FTC actions, here’s our proposed rewrite:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape.
You don’t spit into the wind.

You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.
And you don’t engage in acts and practices in contempt of a United States District Judge’s Permanent Injunction.

Less than meets the eye?

When an ad purports to show a “right before your eyes” demonstration of a product in action, the visual must be a truthful representation of what it can do.  If that’s not the case, both the advertiser and the ad agency can find themselves in law enforcement quicksand.  That may have been news to Don Draper and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper in the early 60s, but it’s been a well-established legal tenet since then.  The FTC’s complaint against Nissan North Ameri

FTC says diaper claims didn't pass the smell test

What do dirty diapers and deceptive ads have in common?  (We’ll pause a moment so you can add your own punch line.)  Now that’s out of the way, the action against Portland-based Down to Earth Designs – consumers know them as gDiapers – is the FTC's latest effort to ensure the accuracy of environmental marketing claims.  But even if green isn't your game, the case also offers insights into what the FTC calls "unqualified claims."

8 advertising potholes auto dealers should avoid

In a drive to encourage truth in auto advertising, the FTC has announced Operation Steer Clear – a coast-to-coast law enforcement sweep focusing on deceptive TV, newspaper, and online claims about sales, financing, and leasing.  If you have clients in the auto industry, the lessons of Operation Steer Clear can help keep them on the right track.

FTC to advertisers: 7 New Year's resolutions

Sprinkle it on food.  Slather it on skin.  Place drops under the tongue.  Regardless of how consumers use your product, if you make weight loss claims, here’s a New Year’s resolution to consider:  Make sure you have sound science to support what you say.  That’s just one message marketers can take from FTC actions against Sensa, L’Occitane, HCG Diet Direct, and LeanSpa, settlements that will return big money back to consumers – including $26.5 million to peopl

Combating "cramouflage": What businesses can learn from the FTC's latest mobile case

Call it "cramouflage" — unauthorized (and unexplained) charges that show up on people's mobile phone bills.  Regardless of whether consumers use cell phones, land lines, or two cans tied together with string, it’s illegal to bill them without their express consent.  That’s always been the law.  It’s the law now.  And we’ll go out on a limb and predict it’ll always be the law.  A settlement involving "cramouflage" charges is the FTC's latest foray against deception in the mobile marketplace.

Blurred lines

Blurred lines are the talk of the media world.  No, not that “Blurred Lines.”  What advertisers, consumer groups, academics, and the FTC are trying to put into focus is the blending of ads with news, entertainment, and other content in digital media — sometimes called “native advertising” or “sponsored content.”  That’s what’s up for discussion at a December 4, 2013, public workshop at the FTC.  Blurred Lines:  Advertising or Content? will explore ways that consumers g

How I spent my summer vocation: FTC revises Vocational School Guides

We’ve all seen ads for vocational schools promising the inside track on well-paying careers in exciting industries.  If you have clients in the vocational school business, class is in session about revisions to key FTC guides.

In place since 1972, the Vocational School Guides (known more formally as the Guides for Private Vocational and Distance Education Schools) are designed to protect potential enrollees from deceptive statements about educational programs that claim to qualify people for certain occupations or trades.

6 tips for keeping your green claims clean

A recent FTC law enforcement crackdown focused on allegedly deceptive biodegradability claims for plastics. Four of the cases settled and a fifth is heading to trial. Another action targeted green claims made by a company the FTC had sued before. Of course, the orders in the cases apply just to those companies, but if you’re intent on keeping your green claims clean, there’s a lot you can glean from the announcement.

Grading your degradability claims: The latest for green marketers

Golf tees, food containers, paper plates, shopping bags, additives for plastics, and rebar caps to prevent construction workers from getting impaled on the job. That’s either the strangest shopping list ever or just some of the products at the center of the FTC’s latest law enforcement effort to make sure companies’ environmental claims are truthful and substantiated.

Made in USA? Avoiding a Yankee Doodle Don't

There are lots of nifty phone accessories, bottle holders, tow straps, pet items, and lanyards out there.  So a label that says the product is Made in the USA may help make the decision for some consumers.  When it bears the American flag and says “TRULY MADE IN THE USA,” that just might seal the deal.  But according to an FTC lawsuit, a lot of the “Made in the USA” merchandise touted by Logan, Utah-based E.K.

And now a word from our sponsor: FTC announces "native ad" workshop

It used to be pretty clear.  The entertainment portion of a show ended and the commercials began.  The two-column article ran on one side of the newspaper and the ad ran on the other.  Or the webpage had the content in the middle with a banner ad running across the top.  Things are more complicated now.  Some call it “native advertising” or “sponsored content.”  Whatever the name, it’s for sure ads in digital media are starting to look a lot like the surrounding content.  What are the consumer protection implications now that those lines appear to be blurring?  That’s the topic of an

Practicing what we preach

"Disclose the cost upfront."  We tell businesses that all the time, so it’s important we follow our own advice.  In that spirit, fees for telemarketers accessing the National Do Not Call Registry are going up a smidge as of October 1, 2013.

Under the law, telemarketers have to download numbers on the Do Not Call Registry to make sure they don’t call people who have said they want to be left alone.  The first five area codes are free.  Exempt groups, like some bona fide charities, can get the list at no charge.

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