You’re watching a commercial or reading a product label and decide to invest in the product/service based on the information presented to you. Here’s the gotcha- the product/service advertised doesn’t meet your expectations, has crazy side effects or required you to unintentionally spend additional money. Whose problem is this? Initially it’s the customer’s problem. However, if a customer decides the product’s/service’s advertising misled them or took them for granted in any way, the company could have a significant problem on its hands. By problems, I mean violating the law and OWING TONS OF MONEY problems.
Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP) is one of the many marketing guidelines the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) set forth to protect American consumers. It may seem simple to market your products with both catchy lingo and clarifying information, but it’s not. I work with legal weekly to understand what I can and can’t say in marketing pieces. There have been times when we’ve literally been in disagreement for weeks and things had to be ridiculously escalated because we couldn’t come to terms on 1 simple sentence. (One time the FTC updated a law and I could no longer use the term “up to” in a certain way and it changed almost EVERY PIECE of copy used in my product’s marketing materials) I LOATHE moments like these, but not putting “risky” marketing out to the public keeps us out of hot waters. One of my favorite quotes came from my legal counterpart as she tried to ease the pain her feedback caused:
Me: “Really?! We have to say all of this just so we won’t get sued?”
Legal: ” No, we have to say all of this so that IF we get sued we’ll WIN.”
You may be a small business/entrepreneur with a small budget for marketing and may not be able to afford a marketing employee or legal subject matter expert of any kind. While this situation is common and understandable, preventative processes are even more CRUCIAL for businesses with limited resources to lessen the chance they’ll get sued by a customer or fined from failing a FTC marketing audit. Companies could go out of business trying to pay legal bills or settlements. I urge marketers/entrepreneurs to take time and understand the marketing laws that are out there to save your business. Consider becoming/hiring a subject matter expert in marketing laws as an investment in your company; one that reduces the chance of infractions significantly.
Investments may be more expensive (or time consuming) upfront, but it could save your skin in the long run. Go to this link for FTC Advertising and Marketing information and resources. Tedious? Maybe, but in America your marketing is only TRUE if the FTC says so (I’m sure there are exceptions but this is one of those times it’s better to just follow the rules). Happy truth telling!
consulting.CTaylorGo@gmail.com for your Brand and Product Marketing Strategy Needs.