Advertisers delight in activating values and hidden desires of consumers using the language of the advertising claim. The “claim” is the part of an ad that makes some claim of superiority for the product being advertised. These days it is difficult to recognize those that are misleading and even downright lies, because most fit into the category of neither bold lies nor helpful consumer information. When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.
The FTC just announced a Notice of Penalty Offenses Concerning Substantiation of Product Claims, that could add a costly consequence for non-compliance. On April 13, the FTC put almost 700 advertisers on notice that they should avoid deceiving consumers with advertisements that make product claims that cannot be backed up or substantiated.
Under the FTC Act, the FTC has authority to seek civil penalties from a company that engages in deceptive or unfair advertising practices with knowledge that it was unlawful. More recently, the FTC issued Notices of Penalty Offenses covering endorsements, money-making opportunities, and education.
The key take away from the Notice of Penalty Offenses Concerning Substantiation of Product Claims are the five practices that violate the FTC Act:
As the FTC states, the goal is to ensure that marketers understand and adhere to their legal obligations. If you have questions about your advertising, whether you have adequate evidence to support your claims, whether your health or safety claims are properly substantiated, or any other concerns about making sure your advertising claims meet FTC requirements, or if you need assistance navigating the process, please feel to contact me for more information. (866)734-2568 and David [at] adler-law.com