The FTC Spelled Out its Priorities at NAD 2022

Oct 27, 2022 by Laura Brett, Vice President, National Advertising Division, BBB National Programs

If you missed the National Advertising Division (NAD) conference last month, NAD 2022, you missed a news-making conference that provided insight into the direction and priorities of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), new issues arising in claim substantiation, as well as emerging issues related to advertising in the metaverse and new digital products like non-fungible tokens.  

Three presentations from the FTC made clear that the agency has regrouped in the wake of the AMG Capital Management LLC v. FTC Supreme Court decision that impacted the ability to seek monetary relief from brands.  

Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Sam Levine, made clear that the FTC is now using multiple tools to exercise its authority to enforce Section 5 of the FTC Act and seek monetary relief including administrative proceedings, rule-violation cases, rulemaking, civil penalty cases where the FTC has specific statutory authority, partnering with state regulators, and penalty offense authority after sending thousands of letters to brands. The Bureau Director further emphasized an intention to seek monetary relief in action taken by the FTC against large national advertisers.  

In conversations with Serena Viswanathan, who leads the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices, it became clear that the FTC’s enforcement activity is focused on dark patterns, the use of endorsements, and influencer marketing and reviews, with an emphasis on disclosures that are obscured or contradict advertising claims -- practices that erode trust and harm consumers and businesses, large and small.  

Our keynote speaker, FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya, even attracted the attention of Congress, resulting in a letter asking the FTC to take strong action in enforcing COPPA and take a leadership role in protecting kids and teens online. 

The FTC presentations send a strong message that it is time for national advertisers to take a hard look at their own advertising. With a strong focus on consumer protection and building consumer trust in advertising practices, companies should consider using independent self-regulation to do just that. By bringing challenges to NAD, companies can help level the playing field, bring real value to their business, and spread better practices across an industry, ultimately building consumer trust.  

NAD’s 2022 conference was an important event for the advertising industry and provided opportunities for the audience to hear directly from the FTC and NAD to ask questions and engage in dialogue that provided important guidance for their own practices and businesses. If you missed it, recordings of the conference are available for purchase and download.  

Make sure you don’t miss NAD 2023 – save the date now: September 19-20, 2023 

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