With the holiday shopping season in full swing, companies will soon begin the annual fight for every consumer dollar. But before companies can make the sale, they will face an even more daunting task: grabbing customer attention in the crowded world of online shopping.

As social media companies integrate shopping features into their base platforms, an industry shift often called “social commerce,” influencer marketing becomes an increasingly important method for driving sales.

As innocuous as those 30-second influencer marketing social media clips may seem to be, companies and influencers should be aware that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is keeping a watchful eye. This month, the agency issued dozens of warning letters to influencers for the lack of adequate disclosures in their social media posts as required by the recently updated FTC Endorsement Guides.Continue Reading Influencers on Notice: FTC Issues Warning Letters for Inadequate Disclosures

Thirteen months after proposing sweeping changes to its Endorsements and Testimonial Guides (Guides), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finalized its revised guidelines and released an updated set of FAQs to help guide the industry with respect to the proper use of customer reviews, influencer marketing, and traditional endorsements and testimonials. 

The new Guides are over 80 pages. We will dive into specific sections in greater depth in the coming weeks, but here are some highlights:Continue Reading FTC Finalizes Updated Endorsement and Testimonial Guides

This week, a federal court in California issued an 80-page opinion that painstakingly walks through claims made against several celebrities who had promoted the Ethereum Max (EMAX) cryptocurrency, also called tokens.

The lawsuit was filed last year against Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather, and former professional basketball player Paul Pierce, challenging their EMAX endorsements and social media posts. Since then, the plaintiffs have amended the complaint multiple times.

Among other issues it addressed, this week’s court decision provided a helpful reference point showing where a court aligned with and diverged from the Federal Trade Commission’s Endorsement Guides.

First, the court found that the “#AD” disclaimer in the following post made clear that Kardashian was being paid, even though it appeared toward the bottom of the post.Continue Reading Court Provides Guidance on Social Influencer Advertising in Ethereum Max Crypto Lawsuit

It’s here! The 11th edition of Venable’s popular Advertising Law Tool Kit is now available for download. This annual resource compiles a broad spectrum of marketing-related topics, background information, and checklists into an easy-to-access guide, authored by some of the most experienced attorneys in the industry. Download this year’s Tool Kit or bookmark the link

Customer reviews and ratings are powerful, low-cost marketing tools. Technology now allows marketers to harness this power on a scale that was unimaginable even five years ago. The ability to solicit, capture, and post reviews and ratings is virtually seamless. But it is just as easy to seek shortcuts or abuse the system. In response, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has devoted resources to addressing consumer review fraud, including through public education. Early in the year, it issued nonbinding guidance for both marketers and online review platforms, warning against potentially deceptive acts, such as faking, manipulating, or suppressing online reviews, as well as paying for higher rankings from purportedly “independent” consumer ranking websites. Online reviews should reflect customers’ honest opinions. So how does the FTC suggest you get there?Continue Reading A Sign of the Times: Federal Trade Commission Releases Guidance on Consumer Reviews

On Monday the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a cease-and-desist order to Kim Kardashian for failing to disclose that she received $250,000 to promote EthereumMax’s digital tokens, “EMAX tokens,” on social media.

The SEC considers the EMAX token to be an investment contract, a type of security under the SEC’s jurisdiction. EMAX tokens are available for public trading on cryptocurrency exchanges, and the SEC found that purchasers would have had a reasonable expectation of profits from their investment in EMAX tokens as a result of the efforts of the company behind the token.Continue Reading Keeping Up with Disclosures: SEC Punishes Kim Kardashian for Crypto Promotion

Last week, the National Advertising Division (NAD) held its annual conference. The wide array of speakers covered a broad range of topics, from the metaverse to dark patterns, social justice, environmental claims, and (as always) substantiation and disclosures. Multiple speakers from the Federal Trade Commission also presented and gave insight into the FTC’s current priorities.

The regulators. Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, made clear that the agency is closely tracking practices it believes result in consumer economic harm and consumer surveillance and privacy issues. He made clear that the Commission is not shying away from seeking big ticket monetary relief against national well-known advertisers, and intends to hold individuals and executives responsible for their companies’ advertising practices. In addition, Serena Viswanathan, FTC’s Associate Director in the Division of Advertising Practices, highlighted the Commission’s focus on disclosure issues as well as endorsements and reviews, such as review solicitation and aggregation, and product ranking websites.Continue Reading Takeaways from NAD 2022: The FTC’s Enforcement Priorities, New Technologies, Dark Patterns, and the Usual Suspects

Webinar | June 28, 2022 | 2:30 – 3:00 p.m. ET | REGISTER

Venable partners Len Gordon and Alexandra Megaris will present “What You Need to Know About FTC’s Proposed Changes to Its Endorsement Guides.” The Endorsement Guides, first issued in 1980 and last amended in 2009, reflect the Commission’s interpretation of how the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission’s May 2022 open meeting, Alvaro Bedoya’s first since being sworn in as the agency’s fifth commissioner on May 16, considered a request for public comment on proposed amendments to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. After a staff presentation on commissioners’ proposed updates and statements, the agency unanimously approved the request for public comment.

The Endorsement Guides, first issued in 1980 and last amended in 2009, reflect the commission’s interpretation of how the FTC Act applies to endorsements and testimonials in advertising. Proposed updates to the guides include the following:Continue Reading FTC Approves Request for Public Comment on Updates to Endorsements and Testimonials Guides