When a consumer makes a purchase gone wrong, what he or she may hear from those less sympathetic is “caveat emptor” or “let the buyer beware.” Often, additional research, reading reviews, comparison shopping or similar activities would have prevented the consumer from making the purchase. But how can the emptor caveat, so to speak, if he or she cannot obtain accurate and honest information about the product or service? What good are those reviews and how useful is that research if the consumer cannot believe what they say?
- Endorsements must represent the endorser’s actual experience.
- Advertisers have to back up their claims with proof and disclose the generally expected results if the endorser’s experience is not representative.
- Advertisements must clearly disclose any connection between the maker and the endorser that may change how much weight consumers would give the endorsement.
Even though it has been a few years since the revised Endorsement Guides came out, this reminder from the FTC indicates that endorsement issues are still top of mind and that advertisers should continue to be vigilant in when using endorsements, including through social media. Accompanying the video for advertisers, the FTC released a video with advice for consumers about online reviews.