FTC Chairman Simons Addresses 2019 ANA Conference
FTC Chairman Joseph Simons used his opening keynote address at the 2019 ANA Advertising Law & Public Policy Conference to put his audience on notice: the FTC has its eye on national advertisers. Simons made it clear that even during a Republican administration, under his leadership, the Bureau of Consumer Protection will no longer be the forgotten half of the agency. Simons characterized the FTC as the "primary cops on the beat," the foot soldiers charged with enforcing the "level playing field" on which companies compete, "based on the merits and unique features of their products and services."
FTC Hints It's Feeling the Buzz
Last September, the National Advertising Division (NAD) published a decision assessing whether the editorial content surrounding an affiliate link constituted "national advertising" requiring substantiation. At issue were two statements in a BuzzFeed "shopping guide," in which the author tested and recommended various skincare products. The NAD reviewed BuzzFeed's internal procedures with respect to the editorial content and the affiliate link, and determined that the content did not constitute "national advertising" and was therefore outside the NAD's jurisdiction.
Let's Get This "Local" Bread!
Bimbo Bakeries and U.S. Bakery recently found out that consumer confusion, like politics, is local, and that "local" means what the local consumer says it means. Let's unbraid this loaf.
In Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. v. Sycamore, No. 2:13-CV-00749, 2019 WL 1058234 (D. Utah Mar. 5, 2019), the jury originally awarded Bimbo $8,027,720 in damages on its false advertising claim against U.S. Bakery, which tried multiple times to convince the court that what makes bread "local" is really a matter of the seller's opinion, or at least that claiming bread is "local" is mere puffery. According to U.S. Bakery, "local" is a geographical term, but not a geographically descriptive term entitled to Lanham Act protection, because "local" is not a specified location.