DMA matches FTC guidelines on endorsements, blogger payments

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The Direct Marketing Association has revised its ethics guidelines to align them with the Federal Trade Commission's recently altered Guides for Testimonials and Endorsements. Both sets of rules affect the marketing of product or service results, as well as blogger and celebrity endorsements.

The DMA's revised guidelines call on marketers to disclose the expected or typical results of a product's use under normal circumstances, as do the FTC's guidelines, which were put into practice last year. The earlier version of the FTC's rules allowed marketers to describe better-than-expected results as long as they were tagged “results not typical.”

“Normally, when the FTC issues guidelines or when we hear they are preparing guidelines, we look at the DMA guides for ethical business practices,” said Senny Boone, SVP for corporate and social responsibility at the DMA. “It's a matter of compliance and we want to be sure that we are in line with whatever the FTC is issuing.”

The group's retooled guidelines also call for marketers to disclose financial or material connections to endorsers, including payments or free products provided to bloggers. They also state that celebrities must disclose their relationships with marketers when endorsing a product on “nontraditional advertisements,” such as on talk shows on in social media.

The FTC voted last October to alter its guidelines on free products and payment arrangements made in exchange for product reviews. Last year's vote was the first time in three decades that the FTC altered the guides.

Boone said that the DMA also has its own process for reviewing complaints of guideline violations.

The Federal Communications Commission announced last week that it will soon release revisions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that it says will empower consumers to avoid unwanted phone solicitations, commonly known as “robocalls.” Its goal is also to move its regulations closer to those of the FTC.

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