July 12, 2018

Advertising Law News & Analysis

3 min

FTC Chairman to Make Consumer Protection a Priority

New Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Joe Simons announced recently that the Commission will hold hearings to provide an opportunity to engage in "self-examination and critical thinking," and ensure that the agency can keep pace with changes in the economy. In a recent blog post, Venable partner Randy Shaheen writes that companies should expect consumer protection to be a priority for Chairman Simons, who recently stated, "Just in terms of priorities: our mantra is vigorous enforcement. That is what I did the last time I was here in the Bureau of Competition, and that is what I expect to do now, not only in competition but also in consumer protection."

Keep the FCC on Your Radar

Most marketers know that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has something to do with the regulation of computers and computing peripherals. However, writes Venable partner Ian Volner in a recent blog post, marketers sometimes forget that the FCC's rules also apply to a host of household devices, such as coffeemakers, electric razors, car battery chargers, jewelry polishing devices, and similar electronic products. Even more problematic is the FCC's tendency to take failure to comply with its rules governing these devices very seriously, which can result in stiff fines, even for innocent violations.

The Rise of Machines [on Instagram]

What if the online influencer whose style choices you admired, and who supported social causes that you believed in, turned out to be…a robot?

That is what happened to followers of Instagram influencer Lil Miquela, CGI influencers like Miquela are attracting attention, and their numbers are expected to rise. However, write Venable attorneys Amy Mudge and Annie Lee in a recent blog post, the FTC has made it clear that the same disclosure rules apply, whether the influencer is a real person or a series of ones and zeroes. And when it comes to testimonials, there are real questions about whether any testimonial by a CGI influencer can be true.

Self-Driving Cars: A New Place to Advertise

Self-driving cars have captured the public's imagination through television and movies, writes Venable partner David Strickland, and advances in computing and other technologies are bringing such vehicles closer to the road every day. Autonomous vehicles will not only impact transportation, but also afford marketers a new medium through which to advertise their products and brands, posing exciting questions about how the technology will work and the role regulators will play.

From the Tool Kit

Advertisers increasingly view social media as an opportunity to have influencers speak positively about their products and services. However, the FTC has made clear that the same rules regarding disclaiming material connections apply in the social media context. In the most recent edition of the firm's Advertising Law Tool Kit, Venable partners Amy Mudge, Randy Shaheen, and Melissa Landau Steinman discuss best practices marketers and influencers should keep in mind to avoid running afoul of state and federal laws.


Subscription-Based Offers Webinar

July 19, 2018 | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET

Join Venable's Ellen Berge for an update on current FTC and state law enforcement policies regarding negative option offers, continuity programs, and other subscription-based offers. We will examine state law developments in this area, particularly under California's newly revised automatic renewal law. We will also break down recent relevant cases to identify specific practices that regulators alleged were unfair or deceptive, and the resulting settlement orders.