Commentary

TV Advertisers Face More Regulatory Scrutiny

If TV advertisers don’t have enough to worry about -- with more viewers avoiding commercials and increased media fragmentation, -- now there’s Operation Full Disclosure from the Federal Trade Commission.  The FTC sent warning lettersto more than 60 companies – including 20 of the 100 largest advertisers in the country – that “failed to make adequate disclosures in their television and print ads,” according to an FTC release.

Among the concerns raised were such specific words as "unique,"  "superior," "worry-free" and "risk-free.”

No names of advertisers were disclosed. But FTC did mention one advertising category as problematic: “Weight-loss ads featuring testimonials claiming outlier results did not adequately disclose the weight loss that consumers generally could expect to achieve. A handful of ads did not adequately disclose issues related to the safety or legality of a product or service.”

The FTC also worried about price: "Many ads quoted the price of a product or service, but did not adequately disclose the conditions for obtaining that price, while others did not adequately disclose an automatic billing feature. Other ads claimed a product capability or that an accessory was included, but did not adequately disclose the need to first own or buy an additional product or service.”

Overall, some of these issues have surrounded TV advertising before. Maybe some marketers believe that in an ever-noisier messaging arena any questionable practices would go unnoticed -- or that potential consumers would search out more information from the companies’ digital areas or other platforms. And, yes, with too much noise and distraction, perhaps a lot is falling through the cracks -- and consumers sometimes need to think twice before letting an ad talk them into buying something.

4 comments about "TV Advertisers Face More Regulatory Scrutiny".
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  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, September 24, 2014 at 9:53 p.m.

    Yet again, I don't understand where you are coming come from, Wayne. You open your "Full Frontal TV Lobotomy" today with this breath taker: "If TV advertisers don’t have enough to worry about -- with more viewers avoiding commercials and increased media fragmentation, -- now there’s Operation Full Disclosure from the Federal Trade Commission." On its face, this should be nothing to worry about unless one is aiming to deceive current and potential consumers. Moreover, increased media fragmentation is actually an opportunity for advertisers, unless you believe in one-size-fits-all marketing. Further, commercial avoidance is -- more than likely -- a byproduct of bad commercial creative. I have never heard anyone boast or cheer about missing a good commercial. So what do I want? I want even more intelligent and helpful FTC action. I want to see the FTC join with the MRC to see what can be done about the TV Audience Measurement Monopoly (TAMM). It would appear that this current monopoly marketplace is leading to bad economics and weak (proposed) methodologies for the future of television and video media. Reducing the SE (standard error of the TV Estimate) (All ratings are estimates. Right, Wayne?) by modeling (i.e., making up or guessing) half the demographic viewing data sounds, well, insane. This will hurt consumers as much, if not more, than bad television advertising. So what about it MediaPost? Can you advocate for more, not less, FTC intervention in matters that will truly help consumers across the board, whether they be media buyers or CPG buyers? Here's hoping! Onwards and upwards. (And if I am mistaken in any of my observations or judgments, please let me know. Ciao!)

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 25, 2014 at 12:41 a.m.

    Tongue in cheek syndrome strikes again.

  3. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, September 25, 2014 at 12:19 p.m.

    Dear Paula, I assume you must be referring to Wayne Friedman's awkward introduction to an important story on the need for government regulation (i.e., FTC) when self-regulation isn't sufficient to protect the American Public. Let me assure you, I was not joking about anything, nor do I think the FTC was kidding. Every year, I get a flu shot and a TIC (tongue-in-cheek) vaccination to protect myself (and others) against such troublesome "syndromes." While I have a sense of humor (and can place my tongue in my cheek when warranted), serious issues presented incorrectly or inappropriately don't call for "merrymaking." Enjoy the day! Onwards & upwards. Sincerely, Nick

  4. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, September 27, 2014 at 8:01 p.m.

    #JohnGronoIsObsessedWithNicholasSchiavone'sWriting

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