On August 9, the US District Court of Georgia ruled that the FTC had provided “broad and detailed evidence” for its allegations that a tech company and its CEO engaged in deceptive advertising and unfair fee practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC’s 2019 complaint alleged the defendants made deceptive representations to customers and charged hidden, unauthorized fees in connection with the company’s “fuel card” as well as through co-branded cards, to companies in the trucking and commercial fleet industry. The FTC’s factual allegations include the following:
On August 10, the CFPB issued an interpretive rule stating that digital marketing providers that are involved in the identification or selection of prospective customers or the selection or placement of content to affect consumer engagement including purchase or adoption behavior, are subject to the CFPB’s jurisdiction. The rule ostensibly clarifies the scope of companies that are “service providers” under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (“CFPA”) to include digital marketing providers, and thereby subjecting them to the CFPB’s authority to prohibit unfair, deceptive, abusive acts or practices (UDAAPs). …
The FTC has sent a strong message to industry that it plans to hold companies responsible for using endorsements and customer testimonials that deceive consumers. The recent warning signals the FTC’s focus on fake reviews and endorsements and the agency’s intent to hold brands and advertising service providers accountable where necessary. The agency is paying particularly close attention to how brands communicate with customers through third party influencers on social media.
Continue Reading FTC Signals Plan to Enforce Civil Penalties for Deceptive Endorsements
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
New York has enacted a sweeping law that regulates automatic renewal programs (subscriptions) modeled after California’s automatic renewal law…
Continue Reading New York Passes Wide-Ranging Automatic Renewal (Subscription Model) Law
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.” 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