FTC Seeks Public Comment on its Endorsement Guides

Today’s online marketplace is filled with reviews, testimonials, and endorsements from a host of sources including everyone from the average consumer to bloggers and other celebrities. The power of an endorsement can significantly influence consumer behavior and almost always leads to increased sales. With this in mind, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) published guidelines in 1980 that include requirements for disclosing compensation or other things of value from the company receiving the endorsement.

The FTC recently released a Proposed Notice requesting public comment on whether its Endorsement Guides should be updated. The request is part of a systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides, and is aimed at helping to ensure these rules and guides keep pace with changes in the marketplace and technology.

Last revised in 2009, the Endorsement Guides offer businesses guidance on how FTC advertising principles apply to marketing through endorsements and testimonials. This round of reviews focuses on the current requirement that “material connections” between the endorser and seller must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. Specifically, the FTC wants to know how consumers understand the disclosure across different social media platforms.

Additional areas of interest in the Proposed Notice include affiliate links, media intended for children, incentivized reviews, self-regulation, enforcement, and compliance.

Once the Proposed Notice is published in the Federal Register those seeking to file comments will have 60 days to submit. Instructions for filing a comment will be included in the Federal Registry Notice.