This might be interesting
, the FTC is going to insist that viral marketing campaigns have their agents disclose who they are working for. It seems that they figured out that having people falsely give what appears to be unbiased advice might be a dishonest business practice.
The FTC said it would investigate cases where there is a relationship between the endorser of a product and the seller that is not disclosed and could affect the endorsement. The FTC staff said it would go after violators on a case-by-case basis. Consequences could include a cease-and-desist order, fines and civil penalties ranging from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. Engle said the agency had not brought any cases against word-of-mouth marketers.
Though the staff's opinion fell short of Commercial Alert's original request, the group's executive director, Gary Ruskin, said he was pleased the staff agreed that word-of-mouth marketing could be deceptive.
"This letter tells marketers like Procter & Gamble that their 'sponsored consumers' must disclose that they are shilling, or they are probably in violation of the prohibition against deceptive advertising. That's big," he said. "It will change practices in the word-of-mouth marketing industry."
I tend to agree. If you lie to sell a product, you're a fraudster, plain and simple. Commercial speech is not protected like other forms of speech, like political speech or the press. There is a common-sense difference between free expression and allowing people to say whatever they want to sell a product.
I wish the FTC would get even more severe and ban puffery - that is the practice of allowing advertisers to tell lies that are more or less obvious. For instance, showing a basketball player put on a pair of shoes then jump 500 feet in the air or whatever. It's bullshit, it's a lie, but it's an obvious lie, so that's supposedly ok (at least in this country - not in others).
Labels: advertisement, fraud, FTC