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.




Truth In Advertising: The Basics Playlist

Watch them one-by-one or select the ad law topics most relevant to you. Watch the full playlist below or 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?
Season #3 
  • Ep. 1 : Are you taking care of your health (claims)?
  • Ep. 2: It’s not easy being green. What’s next in ESG?
  • Ep. 3: It’s not puffery. Do you have the evidence to be #1?
  • Ep. 4: A different playing field. Advertising to kids is different?
  • Ep. 5: The NAD Top 10 — Did you know?
  • Ep. 6: What is the appeal of an appeal? Getting to know NARB
Listen on Apple Podcasts
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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 apply truth-in-advertising principles to the responsible use of reviews and testimonials.
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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. Instead, substantiation standards are set by laws, guidance documents, or industry organizations. NAD looks to those different sources for guidance when reviewing advertising claims.
Read more

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?
Read more

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).
Read more

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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Take Care of Your “Health-Lite” Claims

Some advertisers believe they can avoid scrutiny when making health-related claims by making their claim “softer.” But context is key. Health benefit claims must comply with the FTC’s Health Products Compliance Guidance. The substantiation bar is not lowered by changing the approach to the health-related claim.
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Big Game Ad Claims: Trends & Lessons Learned

It’s time again for the Big Game, when we gather to watch the most expensive commercials of the year. As brands create memorable content, it is important they remember to make all claims truthful and accurate. This year, as you watch brands’ creative efforts, keep these lessons learned from past NAD cases in mind.
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FTC Warns Influencers: Disclose Material Connections

Earlier this year the FTC revised its Guides for Endorsements and Testimonials and issued a guidance document answering questions about the Guides, as well as a proposed new rule on the use of consumer reviews and testimonials - almost promising businesses that the FTC would be taking a close look at influencer marketing.
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Beauty Product Claims & the NAD: Why Substantiation Matters

Substantiating product claims is required by law and may help brands avoid an inquiry from the FTC or other regulatory bodies. The founders of The Benchmarking Company, a consumer research firm for the beauty and personal care industries, interviewed NAD attorney Jennifer Santos to uncover what every brand should know about NAD.
Read more






Case Digests


Each digest includes BBB National Programs case summaries, organized by topic. These Digests are updated annually with new cases.



Cosmetics, Anti-Aging, and Personal Care Digest

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Digital Marketing Digest

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Environmental Digest

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Telecommunications Digest

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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.