FTC To Require Advertisers Using Testimonials To Show Typical Results

Subway spokesman and occasional thin guy Jared Fogle may soon be out of work thanks to a new FTC rule banning commercial testimonials that warn “results not typical” or “individual results may vary.” Under the new rule, marketers using, say, body builders to advertise weight loss pills are also going to have to show an average lardass whose results might be more typical. You can guess how advertisers are reacting to the change…

The revisions have drawn sharp criticism from product manufacturers, advertising agencies and trade groups who say it is the “aspirational” theme of their ads that motivates consumers to purchase their goods. Show less than the ultimate achievement, they say, and consumers are less likely to buy.

Translation: Easily deceived consumers wouldn’t buy useless products if they knew they were useless.

“For a good part of the last decade, we have noticed a problem, particularly with consumer testimonials,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s division of advertising practices. “The use of consumer testimonials had become almost a safe harbor for companies as long as they threw in some sort of disclaimer about results not being typical.”

The rules are undergoing a final review, after which they will likely be adopted. Late night and daytime advertising will never be the same!

Federal Trade Commission’s plan to change rules on ad endorsements, testimonials worries marketers [Chicago Tribune]