Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing

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"Rule clean up on Aisle 16!"

You or your clients are in the grocery business and customers are lined up to take advantage of an advertised special. Great news — as long as the stock on hand meets their demand. But if it doesn’t, the FTC’s Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices Rule — known to its friends as the Unavailability Rule — kicks in.

Trash or treasure?

Maybe your IT staff has sold you on the benefits of new computers.  Or perhaps you plan to replace the clunker in the rumpus room in anticipation of the upcoming school year — and it includes your “homework” from the office or personal data like financial information or family Social Security numbers.

Of course, you’ll do your research before investing in a new system.  But have you thought about how to securely dispose of your old computer?  Before you log off for the last time, make sure your tech trash doesn’t become a fraudster’s treasure.

Closed encounters of the third kind

Savvy executives like to stay in the loop on FTC activities that could affect their industry.   They make it a habit to scan the headlines or check for relevant workshops or reports.  But there’s a third category of information a bit less understood: closing letters from BCP staff.

In the spirit of transparency, the agency posts them online.  Here in the BCP Business Center, recent letters appear in the Compliance Documents section of each topic area.

Throwing the book at 'em

A fax comes through at the office looking like it’s a form to re-up your existing phone directory listing.  It includes information about your business, a “Yellow Page ID number,” and a familiar “walking fingers” logo.  The fax, not addressed to any particular person or department in your company, instructs the recipient to sign and send the form back by an impending deadline.  Buried in fine print is the only indication the fax is really a solicitation for new business.

Swish Marketing decision nets consumers $4.8 million

Thinking about using a pre-checked box to obligate buyers in an online transaction?  Maybe you’re considering a negative option arrangement without clearly and conspicuously disclosing the details of the deal.  Or perhaps you’re an affiliate marketer who’s concluded that legal compliance is somebody else’s responsibility.  A $4.8 million judgment entered by a federal court in California suggests you might want to reconsider those strategies.

Accounts deceivable

Perhaps you see cops on the beat when they pass by your office. Maybe you serve on a committee with the Chief of Police or have a relative in the Sheriff’s Department. However you cross paths with local law enforcement, do them — and yourself — a favor by telling them about Consumer Sentinel.

Candid spamera

Say “spam” and most business executives think of annoying messages that litter their IN box.  But the CAN-SPAM Act and the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Rule cover a much broader range of commercial email.  Yes, that includes messages offering to split $50 million languishing in the foreign bank account of a deposed prince.  But the Rule also applies to a wide variety of communications with customers or potential customers — for example, an email notifying them about a product you’re featuring or an upcoming sale.

Room with review

Is your briefcase feeling lighter? That’s because your dog-eared copy of Volume 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations (where most FTC rules and guides live) is decidedly thinner these days. For the past two decades, the agency has undertaken a systematic review of its rules and guides to make sure they’re up to date, effective, and not overly burdensome. As each rule comes up for review, we ask ourselves — and you — four questions:

Thigh maintenance

A skin cream that can reduce body size.  Are historians sure that wasn’t what Ponce de Leon was seeking?  It’s certainly what buyers are looking for, if ads are any indication.  But claims like that have to be backed up by solid science, as is clear from the FTC’s $900,000 settlement with Beiersdorf, Inc., marketer of Nivea My Silhouette!  (Yes, the exclamation point is on the package.)

What's on the table

The preliminary voluntary principles proposed in April by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children have got people talking about kids, advertising, and nutrition. Congress — in a bipartisan effort led by former Senator Sam Brownback and Senator Tom Harkin — directed the FTC, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to develop recommendations for the nutritional quality of food marketed to kids, ages 2 to 17.

Gauge your app-titude

Today, tech-savvy entrepreneurs use mobile apps to build buzz, save money, and stay in touch on the go.  But how can you make sure all those apps you buy protect your privacy, keep your data secure, and wind up costing you exactly the advertised price?  OnGuardOnline, the federal government’s online safety and security site, has some questions to consider before you click DOWNLOAD.

It's all about the order

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Law enforcers often ask themselves a similar question:  “If a lawsuit reaches final judgment without concrete protections in place for the future, does it have any impact?”  That explains the FTC’s keen interest in remedies with the teeth necessary to do the job.  Simply put, when it comes to consumer protection, it’s all about the order.

Shedding light on lumens

You use them everyday at home and at the office, they’re within an arm’s reach of where you’re sitting — and they’re undergoing the most profound change since the days of Thomas Edison.  Any guesses?

Light bulbs.

Around the world in shady ways

Yes, it’s a global marketplace, but geography still matters. Misrepresentations about where a company is based can have significant implications for buyers. That’s the message of an FTC settlement announced today against a California online retailer that allegedly deceived British consumers into thinking it was a “hometown operation” by falsely using a .co.uk website.

What the headline giveth

If you work in the telecommunications field, you’ll want to follow the FTC’s pending lawsuit against Millennium Telecard. But even if telecom isn’t your line, the case illustrates a key principle of FTC advertising law: “What the headline giveth, the fine print cannot taketh away.”

“Find ‘em, list ‘em, and make money”? Not so fast, say the FTC and Colorado AG

You run a successful business or maybe you work with some of the top companies in the country. A friend or relative is struggling to climb out of a financial hole. They ask for advice about a can’t-miss “wealth-building program.” Do them a favor and suggest they apply the brakes before shelling out a penny.

Time to kick the tires on the FTC’s Alternative Fuels Rule

We’re still waiting for George Jetson’s promised jetpacks, but car buyers have started to see transportation options not available just a few years ago.  That’s one reason the FTC has begun a review the Alternative Fuels Rule and seeks your input about the rule’s costs, benefits, and regulatory and economic impact.

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