Truth-in-Advertising 101

Advertising’s purpose is to convince consumers to buy the advertiser’s product or service. While advertising is often creative and fun, it can also sometimes cross the line into false advertising that misleads consumers and distorts fair competition. The law requires that advertisers tell the truth.


This educational resource library shares advertising law basics, including common terms like ‘puffery,’ and helps to draw the line between truthful and misleading advertising.

Basics Videos

This playlist includes multiple videos outlining some advertising law basics. Want to take a deeper dive? Learn more about each 101 advertising law topic by listening to the coordinating Ad Watchers episode.





Watch them one-by-one or select the ad law topics most relevant to you. Watch the full playlist on YouTube here.





The Ad Watchers



The monthly Ad Watchers podcast, brought to you by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, provides listeners with behind-the-scenes access to the nitty-gritty of advertising law. Why? Because advertising law is simple, it’s the execution that’s hard. 


NAD attorneys break down common advertising practices to reveal the complexity of keeping claims truthful and accurate. Hosts will answer questions like, ‘what makes a disclosure easy to notice, read, and understand?’ and ‘where is the line between opinion and fact?’ with real-life case examples from NAD. 



Season #1
  • Ep. 1: Who’s making these advertising rules?
  • Ep. 2: What does it mean to have a reasonable basis?
  • Ep. 3: What’s the recipe for a proper advertising disclosure?
  • Ep. 4: How do we step into the shoes of the consumer?
  • Ep. 5: The best podcast ever – what is puffery?
  • Ep. 6: When are advertisers responsible for consumer ratings and reviews?
  • Ep. 7: What evidence do you need to support health claims?



Season #2
  • Ep. 1: How can you avoid the grey areas of green claims?
  • Ep. 2: How do you get consumer perception surveys right?
  • Ep. 3: What should you consider before making cosmetic claims?
  • Ep. 4: How should you present scientific evidence to support your ad claims?
  • Ep. 6: How is direct selling advertising different?
  • Ep. 7: Where is the line between ethical design and dark patterns?



This playlist includes all Ad Watchers Season #1 episodes and is being updated regularly with episodes from Season #2. Watch them one-by-one or cherry pick your favorite topics. Watch the full playlist on YouTube here.








Tips and Advice from NAD

The National Advertising Division wants to help you navigate advertising law. We share our insights with tips, guidance, and case trends to help you address the advertising challenges you face.  



Misleading Endorsements and Testimonials May Lead to Civil Penalties

The FTC recently sent a Notice of Penalty Offenses Concerning Deceptive or Unfair Conduct around Endorsements and Testimonials. This action demonstrated the FTC’s continued interest in challenging the deceptive or misleading use of endorsements or testimonials.
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Avoid Misleading Messages When Advertising Medical Devices

Advertisers of medical devices face complex tasks when marketing their products. In addition to complying with FDA regulations, medical device advertising is subject to the same truth-in-advertising principles set by the FTC.
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5 Tips: How to Successfully Use Product Reviews in Advertising

Product reviews should be what they appear to be—authentic reviews that reflect the range of reactions and actual opinions of consumers. These best practices explain how to use truth-in-advertising principles to the use of reviews and testimonials, and provide guidance for brands looking to use product reviews in their advertising without conveying a misleading message.
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Truth-in-Advertising: Who Makes the Rules?

It is a common misunderstanding that the National Advertising Division (NAD) creates or establishes standards for the U.S. advertising industry. NAD does not make the rules, but instead serves as one arm of the U.S. system of independent advertising self-regulation to hold companies to established standards for claim substantiation. Substantiation standards may be set by laws, guidance documents, or industry organizations. This post outlines how NAD looks to those different sources for guidance when reviewing advertising claims.
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Call to Action: Improve Green Marketing and Avoid Greenwashing

Green marketing can be a strong marketing tool for companies to differentiate their sustainable approach to business and help consumers choose more sustainable products. But with the variety and volume of green marketing today, does it?
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Substantiating Advertising Claims in Three Steps: A How-To Checklist for Advertisers

Substantiating advertising claims is important, both to comply with the law and to avoid regulatory scrutiny or a potential challenge from a competitor in court or in a proceeding before the National Advertising Division (NAD). NAD examines the fit between challenged claims and the substantiation provided. What follows is not legal advice but a basic one-two-three checklist for advertisers concerned about substantiating their advertising claims.
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Six Tips to Properly Advertise Your Health and Wellness Claims

Although businesses can advertise the benefits of their products, all messages conveyed by the advertising must be supported by a reasonable basis. Failure to adequately support a health or wellness claim can quickly get a business into trouble.
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5 Tips for Truthful and Transparent Influencer Marketing and Product Reviews

BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Division is dedicated to truth-in-advertising. To help you ensure that influencer marketing and the use of product reviews in your advertising is both transparent and truthful, we offer the following five tips.
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Learning from Cases


Advertising law case decisions are packed with information. Each case decision contains real-world guidance on important advertising issues. Read case summaries in the Case Decision Library for up-to-date guidance on advertising law. Want a deeper dive? Subscribe to the Online Archive to access full legal decisions with detailed guidance spanning decades of case decisions across our programs.  



Subscribe to the Weekly Case Digest – a weekly email outlining the cases published that week.  






Formal Guidance

The best way to avoid issues with advertising law is to follow the rules.