Operation Full Disclosure: The @FTC’s version of The Full Monty

montyWhile we are busy talking about products and promises with clients, were you aware the Federal Trade Commission was putting on a modern day performance of the movie The Full Monty as it relates to media and advertising?  We are like Gaz in the movie saying, “I need an audience!” and the FTC is like Dave in the movie yelling back, “You need a doctor!”  Yep – they want you to bare it all, my friends; are you ready?

I don’t have anything negative to say about the Federal Trade Commission as a whole.  After all, their mission is to protect consumers.  I get that, but I do think they are going a little steep on their latest move starting with the militant title of “Operation Full Disclosure”.  That alone doesn’t sound real user-friendly, right?  Uh, no.

Back in October 2014, Neal Schaffer of Maximize Your Social provided an article written by Kyle-Beth Hilfer about why Operation Full Disclosure matters (and she included the proper disclaimers at the bottom of the article which I’m sure the FTC will love).  Hilfer likely has provided some of the very best advice I’ve read out there, “…make sure that your marketing and legal advisors have an open line of communication…”  Simple, but not always easy.  Always make sure you’re compliant!

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) provided a webinar featuring the FTC (playback can be found here) which really gets into the nuts and bolts of advertising.  It can be a bit of yawner to watch at 1 hour, but the bottom-line again is always make sure you’re compliant!  [See a pattern here?]

In December 2014, CorporateCounsel added some hot and spicy sauce that came as a real punch to social media marketing, “Should Facebook likes and Twitter hashtags be considered endorsements?”  As for now, the FTC is still fixated on print ads, but social media is on borrowed time.  Mark my words!

I can’t talk about this topic without wondering where in the world does picture doctoring come into play then?  Between Target’s disaster last year or the more recent high school photo retouching to make a girl thinner – where do we draw the graphic honesty line – literally?  Where do we put a note on the photo that says “Photoshopped” so people can stop feeling bad that they aren’t tan enough, thin enough, have less freckles or have a bigger rump?  Do brands have to send the photos out Twitter with the hashtag #photoshopped on it?  The answer is NO.

Trust me, when the FTC comes knocking on social media marketing’s door and freaking out financial advisors about advertising correctly on the networks, I will be right there with my sh-load of photos demanding the truth in advertising claims will start with Justin Bieber admitting his photo with Calvin Klein was a sham.

I will keep you up-to-date as this develops.  Just keeping being bigger, better and more BIONIC this week.

Sheryl Brown / @BIONICsocialite

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