Endorsements and Testimonials

This week, the NAD published a decision involving an infomercial for the Shark Rocket DeluxePro vacuum. Although the decision covers several issues – including comparative claims, product demonstrations, and consumer endorsements – we’re just going to focus on the last one for this post.

If you read our blog, you already know that when a

Last year, we posted about a settlement between the FTC and Machinima over an influencer campaign. This week, the NY Attorney General announced a settlement with Machinima over the same campaign, along with settlements with three other companies that allegedly solicited false endorsements.

In 2013, Machinima paid gaming “influencers” to post videos endorsing Microsoft’s Xbox

On Tuesday, the FTC announced that it has sent warning letters to 20 marketers of weight-loss dietary supplements. The letters question whether the companies possess adequate support for claims and describe the scientific evidence required to support such claims. The Commission is asking the companies to review all product claims, including endorsements and testimonials, to

In January 2014, AdAge interviewed me about news reports that Machinima had hired influencers to create videos promoting Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming console and games. In a native advertising campaign, the influencers posted positive reviews, but didn’t disclose that they had been paid to do so. During the interview, we speculated about whether the FTC

The FTC recently revised its “What People are Asking” page, a source of informal guidance relating to the FTC’s Endorsement Guides.  The Endorsement Guides were last revised in 2009.  The FAQ revisions are intended to address current advertising and marketing trends, such as the use of Twitter endorsements, “like” buttons, and uploaded

The FTC recently released a new version of its Q&As on the Endorsement Guides. The old Q&As, released in 2010, were about seven pages long. The new ones just about double that. The revisions and additions reflect many of the positions that the FTC has taken in the course of its enforcement over the past five years. Below is a summary of what’s new.

  • “Likes.” The FTC questions “how much stock social network users put into ‘likes’ when deciding to patronize a business.” Nevertheless, the FTC states that, as a part of advertising campaigns, “[a]dvertisers shouldn’t encourage [use of] features [such as ‘like’ buttons] that don’t allow for clear and conspicuous disclosures.”
  • Contests. When a company asks a consumer to post something (e.g., “#CompanyX4Evs”) in order to enter a contest, the FTC will normally consider the post to be an endorsement. Additionally, according to the FTC, entry into the contest is an incentive that should be disclosed – especially if a significant prize is at stake.
  • Talk Shows. If a talk show host is paid to promote a product, the FTC will usually expect disclosure of the connection.  Similar promotions by a paid expert in non-traditional media will also normally constitute an endorsement and require appropriate disclosures, according to the FTC.
  • Gifts for Honest Feedback. In the FTC’s view, it doesn’t matter if a company expressly tells people to be honest in their reviews. Any gifts or incentives for reviews should still be disclosed.
    Continue Reading Q: What’s Different About the FTC’s New Endorsement Q&As? A: Lots.

In previous posts, we’ve noted that if a person who writes a review about a product has a connection to the company that makes the product, that connection should be clearly disclosed. The types of connections that trigger this disclosure requirement include things such as payments, free products, and, of course, employment.

According to press