FTC Updates Q&A on Endorsement Guides

June 1, 2015

By Ricardo Carvajal

FTC updated a Q&A on its Endorsement Guides, which set forth administrative interpretations of relevant provisions of the FTC Act as they apply to the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising (the Endorsement Guides were last updated in 2009 – see out posting on that development here).  The Q&A, titled The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking, has been expanded to address certain topics in more detail.

For example, in a section that guides endorsers on how to disclose the fact that they have been given something for their endorsement, the Q&A addresses uploads to YouTube and the use of Twitter:

If I upload a video to YouTube and that video requires a disclosure, can I just put the disclosure in the description that I upload together with the video?

No, because it’s easy for consumers to miss disclosures in the video description. Many people might watch the video without even seeing the description page, and those who do might not read the disclosure. The disclosure has the most chance of being effective if it is made clearly and prominently in the video itself. That’s not to say that you couldn’t have disclosures in both the video and the description.

What about a platform like Twitter? How can I make a disclosure when my message is limited to 140 characters?

The FTC isn’t mandating the specific wording of disclosures. However, the same general principle – that people get the information they need to evaluate sponsored statements – applies across the board, regardless of the advertising medium. The words “Sponsored” and “Promotion” use only 9 characters. “Paid ad” only uses 7 characters. Starting a tweet with “Ad:” or “#ad” – which takes only 3 characters – would likely be effective.

Questions to FTC about the Endorsement Guides can be submitted to endorsements@ftc.gov, for possible inclusion in future updates to the Q&A.