WASHINGTON (CN) – The Federal Trade Commission has revised its guidelines on the use of testimonial advertising, celebrity endorsements and bloggers who have a “material connection” to the subject of their posts.
The changes focus on disclosure of interest between parties involved in advertising and marketing and for the first time include so called “word of mouth marketers” -people who are paid to make endorsements of a product on the multitude of social networking media available to private individuals, including just using or endorsing the product in a public place.
Celebrity endorsers now will be personally liable for statements they make in an endorsement and now have a duty to disclose their relationship to an advertiser when making an endorsement outside of traditional advertising media, like when appearing on a talk show or when paid to use a product in a public place. Under the old guidelines only the advertiser was held liable for the truth and accuracy of the claims made in an ad.
If an advertiser refers to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the advertiser, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the organization. Advertisers that use consumers to convey their experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can expect, and are not protected by disclaimers such as “individual results may vary” or “results not typical.”