Marketing and Advertising Law

Marketing and advertising laws do apply! And the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does a comprehensive job of ensuring the country's companies -- and any brand that advertises to U.S. citizens -- follow the rules.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the country's primary advertising and marketing regulator. State attorneys general can also file promotional violation claims. Truth-in-advertising principles, primarily codified in Section 5 of the FTC Act, are the core of U.S. promotional guidelines. Advertisers are also confined to intellectual property, competition, trade libel, and decency laws.

23 Marketing and Advertising "DON'Ts"

  1. » Don't be careless with user data. Comply with privacy parameters outlined in the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, Consumer Review Fairness Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Ac, and Restore Online Shopper's Confidence Act.
  2. » Do not make false claims.
  3. » Don't make unsubstantiated claims -- especially scientific ones (i.e., "this product will cure/reduce [insert disease or condition]!).
  4. » Comply with the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.
  5. » Don't frame atypical product results as typical.
  6. » Don't use fake news or phony review sites to promote products or services.
  7. » Don't pay for online reviews or use contract gag clauses in an attempt to prevent negative reviews.
  8. » Don't use negative-option tactics that to trick people into signing up for recurring billing scams without sufficient warning.
  9. » Don't make advertisements look like content.
  10. » Don't give away or sell customer data in exchange for material compensation without first securing permission.
  11. » Don't charge credit cards without getting billing addresses.
  12. » Don't send advertorial text messages without advanced permission. (Comply with the Can-SPAM and TCPA Acts.)
  13. » Don't forget to disclose material relationships in advertisements and promotional materials.
  14. » Don't use pop-up disclosures that can be blocked by ad-blocker software.
  15. » Don't hide text disclosures or links to disclosures.
  16. » Don't forget to use #paid, #ad, #spon hashtags when promoting on social media.
  17. » Don't let incentivized reviewers not disclose their status. (NOTE: Amazon changed its rules; incentivized reviews are no longer allowed on the platform.)
  18. » Don't let affiliate marketers that are pushing your brand use underhanded tactics -- you are responsible for affiliates that promote your products and services.
  19. » Don't start a multi-level marketing scheme.
  20. » Don't abandon a crowdsourced project, and then fail to make amends with investors.
  21. » Don't use price anchoring tactics (i.e., advertise an inflated original sales price to give the impression of a deal).
  22. » Don't neglect your website's security; in some cases, the FTC can fine businesses for getting hacked.
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