At this week’s meeting of the American Advertising Federation, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez remarked on the Commission’s approach to advertising, commenting on topics du jour at the FTC. This is one of her first series of remarks related to advertising since taking the top FTC spot. And in honor of the 449th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, her remarks were intertwined with references to the Bard’s greatest works as she applied them to today’s advertising challenges.
Riffing on a Richard II reference, Chairwoman Ramirez quoted Shakespeare’s “spotless reputation” phrase, noting that “as advertisers, your reputation – your brand – is everything.” Ramirez said that the FTC’s work to promote truthful advertising and protect consumer privacy is aligned with the advertiser’s mission to promote the “spotless reputations” of its clients and firms. When someone engages in a deceptive practice, the harm done to advertiser’s reputation can be so severe that the brand doesn’t ever recover. Consumers can also lose faith in an entire industry if advertising frequently misleads people or if companies routinely hide information, she added. Ramirez encouraged businesses to be “above-board” in their advertising and privacy practices, in order to maintain that “spotless reputation.”
Then giving a nod to the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, Ramirez spoke on the future of mobile and how the FTC is adapting to an increasingly digital world. She referenced the FTC’s recent best practices report on privacy disclosures as well as the updated Dot Com Disclosures for digital advertising. She spoke about how the FTC’s green guides can help marketers ensure that their environmental and renewable energy claims are not deceptive.
On the subject of Do Not Track, Ramirez noted that consumer data is the currency of the Web. She also encouraged all players in the online advertising ecosystem to dive into the World Wide Web Consortium process in order to help develop a self-regulatory Do Not Track standard that meets the needs of consumers and advertisers alike.
In short, Ramirez spoke about how the FTC and advertisers are on the same page because advertisers know that honesty and transparency are essential to maintaining a positive brand. Though Ramirez’s remarks did not include the Bard’s famous line from All’s Well that Ends Well, Shakespeare’s words serve as a succinct message to advertisers: “No legacy is so rich as honesty.”