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Checking in with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection – Trends, highlights, new developments, and what lies ahead

22 February 2018

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection is where the action is when it comes to identifying current and future trends related to consumer protection. Bureau actions are closely watched to identify enforcement priorities and issuance of key guidance on how the FTC contemplates exercising its authority in key areas, such as social media.

Actions the FTC takes, or elects not to take, provide critical information to marketers committed to legal compliance in a way that does not hamper appropriate business objectives. The primary protector of consumers against fraud, deceptive advertising, and other practices that prey on unsuspecting consumers has recently updated its previous guidance on the use of endorsements and has taken enforcement action related to endorsements and several other focus areas. This article touches on a range of topics and is intended as a quick reference guide to recent developments with an eye on what lies ahead.

The FTC’s key developments include the following:

  1. Endorsement and testimonial guidance updated and first ever action against an individual social media influencer. 
  2. Warning Letters sent to dozens of firms cautioning them on the need to disclose material connections with endorsers touting products on Instagram.  
  3. Substantial penalties ($40 million) imposed on company found to have violated an existing consent order related to weight-loss claims.  
  4. FTC failed in effort to challenge “Improves Memory” claims.  
  5. Hang-over product claims examined by FTC, which closes matter with no action, after firm quickly corrects advertising.
  6. Acting Bureau Director Pahl questioned whether the FTC needs to rethink how it uses its enforcement powers in advertising substantiation cases.
  7. Joint warning letters issued by FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to marketers and distributors of opioid cessation products. 
  8. What lies ahead at the FTC and beyond.

This Update surveys these areas and provides context by which marketers can devise and execute effective, innovative campaigns in a manner that is well informed by the consumer protection environment now and in the future.

Read More: Checking in with the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection – Trends, highlights, new developments and what lies ahead


Xin Tao

Xin Tao

Senior Associate
Washington, D.C.

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