The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) recently revised its children’s advertising guidelines to address the increased prevalence of online media directed to children. Of note, the guidelines now apply to content directed to children under 13 -in line with COPPA- rather than the previous applicability to children under 12.

Continue Reading CARU Revises its Guidelines to Address Increase in Online Media

Tapjoy, Inc. (“Tapjoy”), a mobile advertising company, settled FTC allegations that it failed to provide promised in-game rewards to consumers. Tapjoy operates an advertising platform that works within mobile games and offers in-game virtual currency to users who complete the activities of third-party advertisers (i.e. purchase products, sign up for a free trial, take a survey). Despite hundreds of consumer complaints, Tapjoy failed to deliver on its promises to consumers who earned in-game rewards.
Continue Reading Mobile Advertising Company Gets Flack from FTC for Failure to Deliver Upon Advertised Promises

Owlet Baby Care, Inc. advertised its “Smart Sock” baby monitor with prominent claims that the monitor offers parents “peace of mind,” and promises that babies will “be ok.” The ad message is qualified by disclaimers that the monitors are not medical devices and cannot be used to prevent or treat health conditions. The National Advertising Division (part of the Council of the Better Business Bureau), however, recently declared these disclaimers insufficient. The NAD was concerned that the advertising could be interpreted as saying the monitor could prevent SIDS or other illnesses.
Continue Reading NAD Recommends Improvements to Baby Monitor Performance Disclosures

With the backdrop of November midterm elections and social media executives testifying before Congress about foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. democracy, California lawmakers are working on finalizing a new bill aimed to promote transparency and accountability around political advertisements on social media platforms. The “Social Media DISCLOSE Act” (the “Act”) seeks to build upon the existing California DISCLOSE Act, established in 2017, by extending political advertisement disclosure requirements to online social media platforms.
Continue Reading #Transparency: California’s Social Media DISCLOSE Act

Digitally altered images of models have been a controversial advertising issue for decades. In Great Britain, the Advertising Standards Authority Ltd., which is the governing regulatory advertising body, in 2011 banned skincare advertisements featuring digitally altered images because the advertisements exaggerated the effects of the skincare and makeup products and were held to be misleading “per se.”[1] In France, as of October 1, 2017, “it [was] mandatory to use the label ‘retouched photo’ alongside any photo used for commercial purposes where the body of a model has been modified by image-editing software to either slim or flesh out her figure” and any violation might result in a fine of up to €37,500.
Continue Reading Do We Need A Truth In Advertising Act? The Industry and Retailers Self-Regulate Photoshopping Ads

Prop 65 is a California law that requires California consumers receive warnings regarding the presence of chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. As we reported in our Environmental Blog
Continue Reading Are Your Product Warnings Prop 65 Compliant? With New Changes Coming, It’s Time to Re-Evaluate

In our previous blog post, “#CAUTION: FTC Ramps Up Enforcement of and Education on Social Media Influencer Disclosure Requirements,” we discussed a recent Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) settlement and the FTC’s increased focus on misleading advertising and endorsements on social media platforms.

The complaint, brought by the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (“BCP”), was against two online gaming influencers, Trevor Martin (a/k/a TmarTn), Thomas Cassell (a/k/a TheSyndicateProject, Tom Syndicate, and Syndicate), and their corporation CSGOLotto, Inc. (“CSGOLotto”).  The BCP alleged that Martin and Cassell (1) did not disclose their ownership in CSGOLotto, (2) were paid to endorse the online platform’s gambling service and (3) asked other gaming influencers to promote the service in exchange for payments between $2,500 and $55,000 without making them disclose such payments. In response to the complaint, neither Martin, Cassell, nor CSGOLotto admitted or denied the allegations, but instead agreed to enter into an Agreement Containing Consent Order with the FTC (the “Order”). The Order prevents them from misrepresenting an endorser of the product or service as an independent user or ordinary consumer of same and requires them to clearly and conspicuously state if the endorsers have a material connection to the product or service.
Continue Reading Paid to Post? #FTCAdvice for Influencers

In 2017, being a “social media influencer” can mean big bucks. Companies are increasingly eager to pay individuals with large social media followings substantial sums to promote products in the hopes of reaching millions of potential customers quickly. And consequently, the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) is paying attention more than ever. If you’re being paid to promote a product on your Instagram account, the FTC wants you to let the world know. . . or else.
Continue Reading #CAUTION: FTC Ramps Up Enforcement of and Education on Social Media Influencer Disclosure Requirements

This is not a drill.

Companies and law enforcement agencies around the world have been left scrambling after the world’s most prolific ransomware attack hit over 500,000 computers in 150 countries over a span of only 4 days. The ransomware – called WannaCry, WCry, WannaCrypt, or WannaDecryptor – infects vulnerable computers and encrypts all of the data. The owner or user of the computer is then faced with an ominous screen, displaying a countdown timer and demand that a ransom of $300 be paid in bitcoin before the owner can regain access to the encrypted data. The price demanded increases over time until the end of the countdown, when the files are permanently destroyed. To date, the total amount of ransom paid by companies is reported to be less than $60,000, indicating that companies are opting to let their files be destroyed and to rely instead on backups rather than pay the attackers. Nevertheless, the total disruption costs to businesses is expected to range from the hundreds of millions to the billions of dollars.
Continue Reading WannaCry Ransomware Alert

In response to a petition from a coalition of consumer groups last year complaining about the need for disclosures by social media influencers, the FTC recently announced on April 19, 2017 that it had issued more than ninety letters reminding influencers and brands that “if there is a ‘material connection’ between an endorser and the marketer of a product – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless the connection is already clear from the context of the communication containing the endorsement.” The FTC explained that material connections could “consist of a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the provision of free products from the endorser.” A copy of the form of the letter, which explains that clear and conspicuous disclosures are required can be found here.
Continue Reading Brands Beware!!!! FTC Scrutinizing Influencer Posts for Compliance with Endorsement Guides