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FTC Looks to the Public for Changes to the Endorsement Guides

The Federal Trade Commission announced on February 12, 2020, that it will seek public comment on issues related to the Endorsement Guide, formally known as the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

The Endorsement Guides provide guidance to advertisers on how and when they need to disclose connections between an endorser and a seller of an advertised product. The Endorsement Guides require that if the connection between the endorser and advertiser could affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement, the connection must be clearly disclosed to consumers. The Endorsement Guides have most recently been used by the FTC to pursue companies for not properly disclosing that its influencers and customers had received compensation or free products.

In an ever-changing advertising environment, the FTC has raised many questions about how the rules are being enforced, and if they are effective. Some of those questions include: 

  • Whether changes in technology or the economy require changes to the Guides;
  • How well advertisers and endorsers are disclosing unexpected material connections in social media;
  • Whether children are capable of understanding disclosures of material connections and how those disclosures might affect children;
  • Whether incentives like free or discounted products bias consumer reviews even when a favorable review is not required to receive the incentive, and whether or how those incentives should be disclosed;
  • Whether composite ratings that include reviews based on incentives are misleading even when reviewers disclose incentives in the underlying reviews;
  • Whether the Guides should address the use of affiliate links by endorsers; and

To add public comments to the Federal Register, visit the federalregister.gov. Once the notice is published, comments must be received within 60 days of publication.

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