Covering Your Ads® Blog

Brands and influencers could unknowingly be violating the FTC’s endorsement rules by using TikTok to promote paid posts and sponsored content without including the necessary disclosures. TikTok offers native direct download and social sharing tools that enable users to share TikTok videos on other social media platforms without the caption and hashtags from the original video description, which may include disclosures that were included as required by the FTC to identify paid advertising.…
In April 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) wrote to Florida-based Teami LLC (“Teami”), a Florida-based producer of Teami tea and skincare products, reminding it of the requirement set forth in the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, that any material connections, including compensation, between advertisers and internet end-users need to be disclosed “clearly and conspicuously” to consumers.  The letter noted that endorsers should use unambiguous language and consumers should be able to notice the disclosure easily without having to look for it; and that because consumers viewing posts in their Instagram feeds typically see only the first few lines of a larger…
As COVID-19 lockdowns continue to restrict in-person production, advertisers are increasingly turning to digital technologies to produce new creative assets. Recently, there has been increased interest in using “deepfake” technologies to repurpose archival footage.  A “deepfake” is essentially a video or audio that has been manipulated in a way that is undetectable to people viewing or listening, resulting in a piece of media that appears authentic.…
Around 311 million people in the United States—roughly nine out of ten Americans—are under instructions to “Stay Home!” These captive audiences have resulted in a 17% increase in TV viewership across all demographics.  Indeed, adults aged 18-34—a demographic that has been increasingly difficult for advertisers to reach on ad-supported television—spent 83 million more hours watching TV during the first week of the lockdown as compared to the last week in February.…
On Wednesday, amid growing concern over the spread of  Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19” or “coronavirus”), the Italian government announced that all sporting events in Italy will resume.  The catch?  They will all take place behind closed doors—no spectators will be allowed to attend for at least the next month. Italy, as the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus outbreak, previously undertook drastic measures to slow the virus’ spread—closing all schools in the country, cancelling sporting events, and instituting bans on other public gatherings across the country. While the epidemic has not yet reached similar proportions in the US, the virus’ spread has…
With the continuing spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19” or “coronavirus”), retailers are sure to face a number of issues that they can and should prepare for. The primary issues facing retailers will likely be supply chain issues, covered here (The Impact of Coronavirus on Supply Chain), and employment issues, covered here (What Employers Need to Know to Prepare for Coronavirus). This post addresses certain pricing and advertising issues that may also arise as a result of the spread of coronavirus.…
On February 12, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced that it had voted 5‑0 to approve a proposed Federal Register Notice, seeking comment on whether to make changes to its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (“the Endorsement Guides”), which were enacted in 1980 and amended in 2009, as part of a systematic review of all current FTC rules and practices.  The FTC’s Endorsement Guides have evolved over the past forty years from regulating celebrity endorsements and testimonial advertisements to policing social media advertising, including influencer endorsements and native advertising.  The Endorsement Guides have steadfastly…
On November 5, 2019, the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued a guide entitled “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers”[1] and a video “Do you endorse things on social media?” to alert influencers to the laws governing endorsement or recommendation of products or services and provide social media influencers with “tips on when and how to make good disclosures.”[2] The FTC’s written guide states that “[a]s an influencer, it’s your responsibility to make these disclosures, to be familiar with the Endorsement Guides, and to comply with laws against deceptive ads.”[3] The guide explains to influencers that…
Sunday Riley launched her skincare firm Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, LLC (“SRMS”) in 2009 and its skincare products, including Good Genes, Power Couple, U.F.O., C.E.O., Luna and Tidal, have enjoyed tremendous success, having been featured, promoted, and sold online through Sephora and its website, www. Sephora.com. On October 21, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a consent order in an action for violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act against Ms. Riley and SRMS for posting false reviews of its Sunday Riley products and falsely representing that the false reviews reflected the opinions of ordinary customers of the products.…
We previously wrote about California Senate Bill 206, the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” back in April, and now Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed that bill into law.[1] The law becomes effective on January 1, 2023. After numerous revisions to the bill since our last post, here is a quick look at the final product. The new Fair Pay to Play Act allows California student-athletes to earn compensation from licensing their name and image and to obtain professional representation by lawyers and agents to assist with that effort, all without losing scholarship eligibility or amateur status under the National…
Owlet Baby Care, Inc. advertised its “Smart Sock” baby monitor with prominent claims that the monitor offers parents “peace of mind,” and promises that babies will “be ok.” The ad message is qualified by disclaimers that the monitors are not medical devices and cannot be used to prevent or treat health conditions. The National Advertising Division (part of the Council of the Better Business Bureau), however, recently declared these disclaimers insufficient. The NAD was concerned that the advertising could be interpreted as saying the monitor could prevent SIDS or other illnesses.…
We recently wrote about the Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s privacy-related enforcement against two mobile apps for children on our Eye on Privacy blog. But there’s more! CARU also took action based on several advertising-related violations. For the first app, “My Talking Tom,” CARU addressed in-app advertisements to children. Under CARU’s Guidelines the “net impression” of an ad directed to children must not be misleading, must not blur the distinction between ad and game content, and must not advertise products that pose safety risks or portray inappropriate behavior. CARU identified several ads that promoted inappropriate products and services, others…
California Senate Bill 206,[1] the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” was amended again last month, and is making its way through the legislature under sponsorship by Sen. Nancy Skinner-D and Sen. Steven Bradford-D. If passed, the new law would pave the way for college athletes in California to earn compensation—including a stipend or other financial incentive from the college itself—for licensing their name, image, or likeness. The law would also allow athletes to obtain legal representation in connection with their participation in college sports, all while maintaining scholarship eligibility and amateurism under the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA) Division…
On November 20, 2018, the United States Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) proposed two FTC consent orders against two Georgia-based companies, Creaxion Corporation (“Creaxion”) and Inside Publications, LLC (“Inside”) and their principals[1] concerning the promotion and advertising of Health Pro Brands, Inc.’s new FIT Organic mosquito repellant during the 2016 Zika virus outbreak and allegations that they had misrepresented paid athletes’ endorsements as independent consumer opinions and commercial advertising as independent journalistic content.[2] The proposed FTC consent orders prohibited Creaxion and Inside from making any false representations in the future and required that they ensure all endorsers disclose all…
With the backdrop of November midterm elections and social media executives testifying before Congress about foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. democracy, California lawmakers are working on finalizing a new bill aimed to promote transparency and accountability around political advertisements on social media platforms. The “Social Media DISCLOSE Act” (the “Act”) seeks to build upon the existing California DISCLOSE Act, established in 2017, by extending political advertisement disclosure requirements to online social media platforms.…