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Authors

Jessica Godell

Abstract

The advertising industry as well as the endorsements and testimonials that support advertising have been expanding into new mediums for years. As a result of this continual growth, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently amended the FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (“The Guides”). The FTC, which sought to apply The Guides to consumer-generated media for the very first time, had not amended The Guides prior to these revisions in three decades. As a result, the changes garnered a number of mixed reactions from the media, consumers and the advertising and legal industries. Under the amendments, The Guides provide that statements in new media fall within the scope of The Guides when a material connection exists between endorser and advertisers. If a material connection exists, The Guides advise parties to disclose their relationship to the consuming public through their choice of consumer-generated media. Furthermore, compliance with The Guides requires advertisers to ensure endorsers do not misrepresent the products or services which are the subjects of their endorsements. Although these requirements are seemingly straightforward, the mixed reactions to The Guides illustrated their ambiguity. This comment addresses the above issues and identifies a number of concrete solutions to help clarify The Guides’ application to consumer-generated media.