FTC Chairman Joseph Simons used his opening keynote address at the 2019 ANA Advertising Law & Public Policy Conference to put his audience on notice: the FTC has its eye on national advertisers. Simons made it clear that even during a Republican administration, under his leadership, the Bureau of Consumer Protection will no longer be the forgotten half of the agency. Simons characterized the FTC as the “primary cops on the beat,” the foot soldiers charged with enforcing the “level playing field” on which companies compete, “based on the merits and unique features of their products and services.”
Simons made it clear that consumer protection is not limited to policing “worthless or harmful” products. Instead, he reminded the audience that the FTC has, does, and will continue to bring enforcement actions against bona fide products if they make claims that overstep or play fast and loose with the truth. Citing a dozen high-profile examples, he emphasized that the Commission will take these cases into federal court where necessary. National advertisers can expect no quarter for being white hat providers of “legitimate” goods and services if they employ unscrupulous methods of advertising.