In these unprecedented times, the Commission is working on all fronts to stop pandemic-related scams or deception – and to warn consumers and businesses about them. But our work in other areas continues, too. Today, we’re taking a minute to take stock of some of the highlights from 2019.
Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing
Trend-conscious buyers want the latest styles ASAP and online retailer Fashion Nova reinforced those expectations by promising “Fast Shipping,” “2-Day Shipping,” and “Expect Your Items Quick!” But according to the FTC, the California company’s shipment delays violated the Mail, Internet, or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule and left consumers haute under the collar. The $9.3 million settlement is the largest ever in a case of its kind.
For decades the FTC has been warning people about online ports, portals, and pop-ups that can be conduits for questionable claims. But companies shouldn’t think we’ve taken our eye off another potential doorway for deception: direct mail. According to an FTC lawsuit, a group of seven U.S.
“Oh, my achin’ . . . .” It’s a common refrain for many older Americans and others who experience chronic pain. Some businesses respond with ads heavy on puffed-up promises, but light on the scientific evidence necessary to support serious health claims. That’s the FTC’s allegation against a company that sold a pill called Isoprex. The complaint also challenges the undisclosed use of compensated friends and family as purported consumer endorsers.
It’s FTC Advertising 101: Don’t make claims about serious medical conditions unless you have solid proof in hand to substantiate what you say. It’s been the law for decades and now more than ever, it’s essential for advertisers to honor that fundamental principle. And yet companies continue to market everything from facial brushes to IV drips with promises to prevent, treat, or cure Coronavirus – claims the FTC calls into question in a new round of warning letters.
Consumers hate illegal robocalls. And as the thousands of reports pouring into the FTC indicate, they also hate robocalls that exploit concerns about Coronavirus. In recent months, the FTC has taken innovative steps to take on not only illegal robocallers, but also companies that “assist and facilitate” their conduct.
As a business owner, you’ve seen the headlines about financial relief that may be available to some companies through the Small Business Administration (SBA). But you’ve also heard about scammers who extract a grain of truth from the news and distort it in an effort to cheat small businesses. Now more than ever it’s critical for small business owners to go straight to the source for accurate information about what’s happening at the SBA. And that source, of course, is the Small Business Administration’s dedicated page, sba.gov/coronavirus.
If your company has made misleading Made in USA claims and represents that the inaccuracies have been corrected, it’s unwise to put ongoing compliance on the back burner. Conduct like that can move an advertiser out of the frying pan and into the fire. Case in point: the FTC’s proposed complaint alleging that kitchen and home notable Williams-Sonoma falsely represented its signature bakeware line as Made in USA.
Years ago, the Australian group Men at Work asked the musical question “Who Can It Be Now?” In the ongoing battle against Coronavirus scams, FTC staff just sent warning letters to nine companies reminding them of the potential ramifications of behind-the-scenes involvement in illegal COVID-19 promotions.
It’s an unprecedented time. But even in the midst of monumental change, the FTC’s commitment to its consumer protection mission remains constant. Here’s a statement from Chairman Simons about the ongoing work of the Bureau of Consumer Protection:
We’ve warned consumers about Coronavirus-related scams, but businesses are at risk, too. Keep your guard up against these seven B2B scams that try to exploit companies’ concerns about COVID-19. In addition to sharing this information with your employees and social networks, read on for how you can report Coronavirus scams to the FTC.
If you say you’re better, you’d better be better – and you’d better have appropriate proof to back up that claim. That’s a takeaway tip for businesses from the FTC’s proposed settlement with Federal-Mogul Motorparts, LLC.
It’s a disturbing trend. Companies are targeting older consumers, claiming to have easy answers for serious diseases for which there may not be a proven cure. That’s one allegation in the FTC’s action against Nevada-based telemarketer Health Center, Inc. Another count challenges what we call “own-dorsements.”
If your business sells online, the price of the product is only one comparative calculation that consumers consider. Shipping matters, too. Does your business deliver to their location? How much will it cost? When will they get their stuff? Here are some practical principles to apply – and some myths to bust – about shipping products to customers from sea to shining sea.
When public health concerns hit the headlines, some companies rush to the market with products advertised to prevent or treat the problem. We’re seeing the same thing with the Coronavirus. But do those businesses have proof for their advertising claims, as the FTC requires? And have their products been approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA? The FTC and FDA just sent warning letters to seven companies raising concerns about their Coronavirus-related products.
The “what” of the FTC’s settlement with Teami, LLC, shouldn’t come as a surprise. The complaint alleges the defendants took in more than $15 million by deceptively claiming their array of teas could cause rapid and substantial weight loss, “fight against cancerous cells,” decrease migraines, unclog arteries, and prevent colds and flu. What’s different is the “how.” The defendants advertised primarily through a massive social media campaign.
Real estate professionals say it’s all about “location, location, location.” For health-related claims, the FTC says it’s all about “substantiation, substantiation, substantiation.” Marketers of an electric device called Quell claimed their product could treat chronic and severe pain throughout the body caused by conditions as diverse as arthritis, nerve damage, sciatica, shingles, and fibromyalgia. And they said all that could be accomplished by placing their product on one single location below the knee.
Ads for health products often target Boomer Consumers, but those aren’t the only claims pitched to people looking toward retirement. An FTC action alleges a company called Online Trading Academy has taken in more than $370 million by gearing its deceptive representations to that demographic. In addition, the complaint alleges violations of the Consumer Review Fairness Act.
Does your company use endorsements in your advertising? Or perhaps you endorse other companies’ products. Then you’ll want to follow the FTC’s just-announced regulatory review of its Endorsement Guides.