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The FTC is here to drink milk and kick butt -- and it just finished its milk. Operation Full Disclosure is an FTC initiative designed to encourage truth in advertising. According to a press release, the FTC sent warning letters to 60 advertisers regarding factual claims and disclaimers in TV and print ads.
Weight loss ads were targeted for not noting that the results embodied in testimonials weren't typical. Ads claiming a "free trial" of a product didn't say that the consumer had to pay for shipping. And so on.
The point is that federal law prohibits advertisements from being misleading. The FTC's guidelines on this are pretty simple: Disclaimers shouldn't be in teensy-point font, and temporally, a disclaimer should appear on the screen when it applies and should be there long enough to be read.
If you're an ad agency, or deal with ad agencies, or if your company handles its own advertising, here are a few tips for complying with the FTC's guidelines:
Essentially, if you have to resort to some kind of trickery -- or if you're asking, "Is this deceptive?" -- then it probably is deceptive. The letters the FTC sent to the 60 advertisers don't constitute legal action, as such: It's just a heads-up that they're watching.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.