In celebration of the FTC’s 100th anniversary, we’ve been examining the leaves on our family tree. The FTC’s founding is often associated with turn-of-the-century trust busting, but a closer look – including a study of the very first case published in Volume 1 of Federal Trade Commission Decisions – proves that the intertwined roots of consumer protection and competition run deep. That’s one of the themes of the FTC@100 Symposium on Friday, November 7, 2014.
Blog Posts Tagged with Advertising and Marketing Basics
Patent assertion entities have been the subject of much debate in antitrust and intellectual property circles. But there’s one proposition we hope that parties on all sides of the issue can agree on: It’s illegal to falsely threaten patent suits against small businesses or make unfounded claims that other companies have paid for patent licenses.
How’s this for a profile on a dating site? “Enjoys travel, long walks on the beach, fake potential dates that really are subscription solicitations, and illegal negative option programs, in violation of the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (ROSCA).” If that’s your idea of a dream date, have we got a site for you!
If the disclosure of information is necessary to prevent an ad from being deceptive, the disclosure has to be clear and conspicuous. That shouldn’t be news to any advertiser and certainly not to the 60+ companies – including 20 of the 100 biggest advertisers in the U.S. – that received warning letters as a part of the FTC’s Operation Full Disclosure.
History buffs – and fans of the series “Deadwood” – know that promises of riches lured many prospectors west. Now imagine if the general store in Deadwood advertised state-of-the-art shovels, pans, and pick axes necessary for mining, but never delivered the gear or delivered it long after others had mined the prime parcels. That’s pretty much what the FTC says Kansas City-based Butterfly Labs is up to, except that what today’s prospectors are mining are bitcoins.
An online high school that bypasses the pep rallies, proms, and the principal’s office? Under the right circumstances, that might be an innovation in education. But what if it skips the classes and coursework while falsely promising a valid sheepskin from an accredited institution?
Acc-cen-tuate the positive.
Eliminate the negative.
Latch on to the affirmative.
And don't mess with Mr. In-Between.
That's how the catchy Bing Crosby-Andrews Sisters number went in the 40s. When it comes to negative options now, the message for marketers is to explain things positively.
According to the Lennon-McCartney song, “She's got a ticket to ride, but she don’t care.” According to a settlement announced by the FTC and Connecticut AG, consumers doing business with TicketNetwork through two of its top partners – Ryadd and SecureBoxOffice – were misled into thinking they were buying tickets at face value from the event venue.
Consumers who tuned in to programs like the Today Show, Daybreak USA, and local newscasts may have caught interviews with guests billed as “The Safety Mom,” a home security expert, or a tech expert. Among the products they reviewed was ADT’s Pulse Home Monitoring System. Describing it as “amazing” or “incredible,” they offered glowing details about its capabilities, safety benefits, and cost. But according to the FTC, here's one material fact that wasn’t discussed: ADT had paid the three spokespersons a total of more than $300,000 and provided two of them with free systems valued at $4,
The awards season may be over for the entertainment industry, but it’s time for consumer protection to take its turn on the red carpet. (Of course, no one should ever have to ask “Who are you wearing?” A quick look at the label and a search in the FTC’s RN Database will provide that information instantly.) If we were giving out the statuettes, here are some of the winners from movies and TV.
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
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.
Most retailers and buyers approach a purchase with the best of intentions. But let's face it: Glitch happens. If a company sells a product with a warranty, consumers need up-front access to information about what the seller will do if things go south later. That’s the thinking behind the FTC’s Rule about the Pre-Sale Availability of Written Warranty Terms.
Your customers are counting down the days before the holiday shopping season begins. As your staff prepares for the retail onslaught, the FTC has tips to help ensure that Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t followed by Consumer Complaint Tuesday and Law Enforcement Wednesday.
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.
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
You thought Angry Birds get peeved at those annoying green pigs? That's nothing compared to consumers’ reaction when they found unauthorized charges “crammed” onto their cell phone bills for phony virus scans that showed up when they played Angry Birds on their Android devices. To settle an FTC lawsuit, Jesta Digital LLC — you may know them as Jamster — will give refunds to a significant number of consumers, pay an additional $1.2 million, and change the way they do business.
Two things that bug us: 1) head lice, bed bugs, and other creepy crawlies that score off the charts on the eeww-ometer; and 2) companies that make deceptive claims that their products can treat and prevent infestations. Settlements the FTC just announced with the marketers of the BEST Yet! line of cedar oil-based products reminds companies of the importance of backing up claims with sound science.
Yesterday’s 10th anniversary of the National Do Not Call Registry was a good time to reflect on a decade of progress. But to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson (or Patrick Henry, Irish statesman John Philpot Curran, or whoever else said it), eternal vigilance is the price of an uninterrupted dinner hour. A record-setting $7.5 million settlement with a national mortgage broker demonstrates the FTC’s commitment to the fight against
We’ve been saying it for years: “What the headline giveth, the footnote cannot taketh away.” The same holds true for the dense block of text, the hidden-away reverse side, the vague hyperlink, or any other place the FTC has warned advertisers may not meet the standard for “clear and conspicuous” disclosure. A recent settlement involving long distance phone cards emphasizes what’s not so fine about fine print.