The Better Business Bureau announced last Thursday that it has amended its Code of Advertising to address the new and evolving ways in which advertisers reach consumers through technology. The Better Business Bureau is the administrative parent of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory bodies, including the National Advertising Division.
As advertisers market to consumers who spend more time looking at smart phones and computer screens than television screens and magazines (the traditional media of mass-market advertising), the methods of advertising have changed. The basic tenets of advertising law still apply—i.e., claims must be truthful, not misleading, and substantiated—but the rules drafted to enforce those basic tenets have been updated to catch up with modern technology.
According to the Better Business Bureau, “one of the most significant changes to the Code is an update to the section on testimonials and endorsements, to reflect the Federal Trade Commission’s current thinking on, among other things, the use of such testimonials in social media.” Additional changes touch on substantiation of “up to” claims (e.g., claims of savings up to 10%), close-out and liquidation sales, duration of sales periods, rebate promotions and distinctions between puffery and objective superlative claims.