What advertisers should know about the FTC guidelines on endorsements and testimonials –
In October of 2009, the Federal Trade Commission issued some new guidelines about Endorsements and Testimonials. These FTC guidelines are sometimes misunderstood by radio stations and groups, leading them to unnecessarily add wordy and counterproductive disclaimers to the endorsements and testimonials of their on-air personalities.
Blanket application of disclaimers to all endorsements and testimonials is an overreaction to the guidelines. If a material connection exists between an advertiser and an endorser, there is an obligation to disclose that material connection only where the audience would not reasonably expect that connection to exist. You may be able to convince your station to change their policy by concentrating on the actual language of the FTC text.
If the endorsement is given in a context where the listener would reasonably expect the endorser to be compensated, the guidelines don’t rquire you to disclose because consumers can reasonably be expected to have taken that fact into consideration when deciding how much weight or credibility to give to the endorsement. In short, you don’t have to tell them what they already know.
The text of the FTC press release announcing the guidelines is here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm.
The text of the actual FTC Guidelines is here: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf