In a keynote address at the National Advertising Division conference earlier this month, Mary Engle, Associate Director in the Advertising Practices Division of the FTC, included “Made in USA” as among the agency’s current enforcement priorities. The FTC’s interest in U.S. origin claims is nothing new, but these claims have garnered considerable regulatory attention in recent years, as we have written about here. With manufacturers and retailers increasingly eager to highlight their domestic operations, we took a look at how the FTC’s “Made in USA” enforcement this year stacks up to prior years.
For 2017 year to date, the FTC has issued 15 closing letters and has settled one case (Block Division). By comparison, for calendar years 2014-2016, the FTC issued 56 closing letters and settled one case (Chemence, Inc.) This suggests that “Made in USA” enforcement is roughly on pace with the prior three years.
Enforcement year to date also spans a considerable number of industries and products, involving advertising on household items like pillows, coffeemakers, and lawn mowers, to office and industrial equipment such as ice machines, standing desks, data security products, scales, cell phone signal boosters, air purifiers, and LED tubes. Common remedial measures noted in closing letters include discontinuation of the claims at issue and replacement with qualified claims, packaging modifications, coordinating corrective measures with vendors, and monitoring and correcting third-party marketers.
Given that “Made in USA” claims will remain a priority from the foreseeable future, claim substantiation is a key consideration for advertisers. If you are new to making country of origin claims or just need a refresher, check out our webinar, originally offered in May 2017, called “Buy American, Hire American: Is Your (Or Your Competitor’s) Product Really ‘Made in the USA’?,” for an overview on the substantiation requirements for advertising and the “Buy American” standard that applies to government procurement.