MIAMI — A seminar hosted by the Federal Trade Commission at the ERA spring meeting provided direct response marketers with a look at the growing problem of false advertising online.
Heather Hippsley, assistant director at the FTC's division of enforcement, outlined the four major areas of false advertising complaints: health and safety products, money-making schemes, diet and fitness and product promotions.
She urged direct marketers to follow every possible step to ensure truth in advertising, warning marketers that the FTC recently shifted from investigating false advertising charges as civil cases to investigating them as criminal cases in federal court.
Hippsley detailed five rules of thumb to avoiding false advertising: tell the truth; look at the ad from the point of view of the customer; back up claims with documented and clearly stated scientific proof; and make sure disclaimers and disclosures are prominent, placed near the claim and easy to understand.
Building consumer trust is a key issue for the ERA, said Jonah Gitliz, a member of the ERA review board and president of Lillian Vernon. “We must build a foundation with our customers,” he said.
In an earlier session, Elissa Myers, president/CEO of the ERA, urged member companies to report any incidences of false advertising to the organization.