What are the Endorsement Guides?
The Endorsement Guides represent administrative interpretations of laws enforced by the Federal Trade Commission; specifically the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. 45) to the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. The Guides provide the basis for voluntary compliance with the law by advertisers and endorsers. The Guides set forth the general principles that the Commission will use in evaluating endorsements and testimonials, together with examples illustrating the application of those principles.
What do the Endorsement Guides Apply to?
They apply to product endorsements and testimonials. An “endorsement” means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser. The FTC treats endorsements and testimonials identically. The term “endorsements” is therefore generally used hereinafter to cover both terms and situations. The term “product” includes any product, service, company or industry.
What Kinds of Ads are Covered?
The FTC Act (and the Endorsement Guides) apply to any advertisement that features an endorsement by an individual consumer, expert, celebrity, or organization regardless of the media in which the ad appears. This includes not only TV, radio, print, and Internet, but also social media posts, YouTube videos, blogs, and product reviews. The FTC has been especially vigilant in enforcing disclosure requirements in social media posts that endorse a product.
Who is Liable for Violations?
Advertisers are subject to liability for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements, or for failing to disclose material connections between themselves and their endorsers Endorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their endorsements.
If I Follow the Guides Will I be in Compliance?
Following the Endorsement Guides does not confer any rights on any person and does not operate to bind the FTC or the public. However, practices inconsistent with the Guides may result in legal action by the FTC if, after investigation, they have reason to believe that the practices fall within the scope of conduct declared unlawful by the FTC Act.