February 22, 2015, marked the 87th Academy Awards ceremony. Some people tuned in because they love the movies, others for the fashion and celebrities, but, as for me, I watched it with my wife and was simply counting the minutes until “The Walking Dead” came on. As I watched the celebrities work the red carpet, I did my best to feign interest in cut-away dresses, plunging necklines, jumpsuits matched with capes, and Emma Stone’s wardrobe malfunction, which caused her to accidentally flash the crowd (actually, I can’t lie, that gaffe did grab my attention). I listened to the interviews that the A-listers gave, describing their dresses or tuxedos, and extolling the responsible designers’ brilliance, daringness, and/or overall fashion IQ. They were effusive. Heck, they made me feel like rushing out and buying a new trendy suit myself.
But, then, the advertising and marketing attorney side of me took over – did these actors, actresses, and the designers whose fashion they were shilling violate the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising by not explicitly disclosing their relationships? I started stepping through the issues. First, were the celebrities even providing endorsements for their respective designers’ products? Absolutely. Under the Guides, an “endorsement” is broadly defined as “any advertising message . . . that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser[.]”