Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) works to ensure that the nation’s markets are efficient and free of practices which might harm consumers. To ensure the smooth operation of our free market system, the FTC enforces federal consumer protection laws that prevent fraud, deception, and unfair business practices. The Federal Trade Commission Act allows the FTC to act in the interest of all consumers to prevent deceptive and unfair acts or practices. In interpreting the Act, the Commission has determined that, with respect to advertising, a representation, omission, or practice is deceptive if it is likely to mislead consumers and affect consumers’ behavior or decisions about the product or service. In addition, an act or practice is unfair if the injury it causes, or is likely to cause, is substantial, not outweighed by other benefits, and not reasonably avoidable.

The FTC Act’s prohibition on unfair or deceptive acts or practices broadly covers advertising claims, marketing and promotional activities, and sales practices in general. The Act is not limited to any particular medium. Accordingly, the Commission’s role in protecting consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices encompasses advertising, marketing, and sales online, as well as the same activities in print, television, telephone and radio. For certain industries or subject areas, the Commission issues rules and guides. Rules prohibit specific acts or practices that the Commission has found to be unfair or deceptive. Guides help businesses in their efforts to comply with the law by providing examples or direction on how to avoid unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Many rules and guides address claims about products or services or advertising in general and is not limited to any particular medium used to disseminate those claims or advertising. Therefore, the plain language of many rules and guides applies to claims made on the Internet. Solicitations made in print, on the telephone, radio, TV, or online naturally fall within the Rule’s scope.


Inside Advertising