The New FTC Testimonial Guidelines: Results May No Longer Vary
By: JOHN C. PICKERILL
New FTC Testimonial Guidelines went into effect December 1, 2009. The new guides were primarily revised to address online statements by third parties about products/services and to tighten up product demonstration tactics, but the changes apply across the board to all types of testimonials and endorsements.
One of the biggest changes is that the below ads, which feature the common industry practice of depicting best-case product results qualified by a disclaimer like “results may vary” or “results not typical,” will now violate FTC guidelines.
Also, advertisers must now disclose relationships between the advertiser and any person making statements about the advertiser’s brand or products, if that relationship would not otherwise be understood by consumers. For example, if a blogger receives free product in exchange for providing a product review, the free “gift” must be disclosed. Or, if employees are making statements about the brand via social networking sites, they must disclose their employment.
For more information about the full changes, see the new Testimonial Guides at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf, and contact John Pickerill, advertising attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org.