Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing Basics

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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.

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.

Billed for office supplies you didn’t order? Don’t pay!

It typically started with a schmoozy call to an unsuspecting small business or nonprofit. Sometimes the caller claimed to be “confirming” an existing order, “verifying” an address, or offering a “free” catalog or sample. Then came the supplies surprise – unordered merchandise arriving at the company’s doorstep followed by high-pressure demands to pay up.

Paint settlements suggest caution with broad-brush VOC, safety claims

If marketing claims are any indication, “green” paint is popular with consumers, but not just in the sense of emerald, mint, or avocado. Companies are advertising that their paints are emission-free, VOC-free, and without chemicals that could harm consumers, including pregnant women, babies, and people with asthma. Some brands even feature seals and certifications touting purported environmental benefits.

Publishers Business Services: Quotable quotes on remand

As any golfer will tell you, consistent follow-through is essential. And when the FTC files a lawsuit to protect consumers, the agency is in it for 18 holes – and a play-off, if necessary. Filed as part of Operation TELE-PHONEY, a nationwide crackdown on deceptive telemarketing, the FTC sued Publishers Business Services in 2008.

Pushing the envelope?

There are oldies but goodies. Then there are oldies and baddies. The FTC warns people looking for business opportunities to watch out for trendy tech scams and retro rip-offs. A New Jersey-based outfit cranked the Wayback Machine into overdrive by putting a contemporary spin on what may be one of the granddaddies of all bogus bizopps.

BOTS Act: That’s the ticket!

It used to be a rite of passage: spending the night in a line outside the box office to score tickets to the Stones, Springsteen, or [insert your favorite group here]. The convenience of internet ticket sales ended the sleeping-on-the-sidewalk ritual. But online ticket sales raised another concern: Were prospective buyers losing out to computer programs that scooped up the best seats only to resell them at inflated prices?

FTC alleges deceptive “free” offers teed off golfers and left home chefs feeling burned

When websites prominently advertised “FREE!” golf balls and other gear, duffers and low-handicappers alike swung for the deal. But according to the FTC, 10 related defendants drove consumers into the rough with poorly disclosed terms and conditions, deceptive negative options, and misleading upsells, in violation of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.

Celebrating small business during National Consumer Protection Week

Today kicks off National Consumer Protection Week, but what the FTC does to protect consumers is only part of the story. We also work hard to help small business get down to business. Here are just a few examples of what we’re doing to protect your business from deceptive practices.

It’s illegal to ban honest reviews

Congress unanimously passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect people’s ability to share in any forum their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct. Some companies had been using contract provisions – including their online terms and conditions – to threaten to sue consumers or penalize them financially for posting negative reviews or complaints. The new law makes that illegal.

Don’t make an R-value claim if you can’t support it

An ongoing FTC case is a reminder to businesses — If you make product claims based on scientific testing, you must have valid proof to back up those claims.

Case in point: Last fall, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Innovative Designs, Inc. (IDI) over allegations that the company violated the FTC Act by making false and unsubstantiated claims about its house wrap products.

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