March 12, 2009

Jeff Perlman, Chief Operating Officer
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Manager – Government Affairs

AAF Files Comments on Proposed Changes to FTC's Endorsement and Testimonials Guides

The American Advertising Federation and American Association of Advertising Agencies have filed joint comments to the Federal Trade Commission arguing against proposed wholesale changes to the agency's existing Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. The new guides would virtually do away with the commonly used and understood "results not typical" disclaimer often used by individual endorsers of a product and would mandate a burdensome mandatory disclaimer of generally expected results. The proposed guidelines would also place an unfair burden on bloggers and other viral marketers by requiring unreasonable disclosure of material connections. For example, a blogger reviewing a video game system could be subject to liability by not disclosing that he or she was sent a complimentary copy to review. The FTC bases the proposed changes on two flawed and limited studies. Our comments ask the commission to slow the process and ensure that any future changes be better substantiated by research. A copy of our letter can be found here.
Back to Top

New Mexico Legislation Restricting Outdoor Alcohol Advertising Introduced

New Mexico Senator Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana, has introduced a bill that would prohibit outdoor alcohol advertising within 500 feet of any public playground, school or child care facility. Senate Bill 514, the Limiting Alcohol Near Youth Act, would also direct the alcohol and gaming division of the regulation and licensing department to appoint a youth alcohol advertising monitor. The AAF sent an alert to its New Mexico members urging that they contact members of the Senate to ask them to oppose the bill. In 2001, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law prohibiting outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. Additionally, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America Advertising Practices for Children already includes the rejection of advertising for all products illegal for sale to minors within 500 feet of schools, public playgrounds and established places of worship. A copy of our alert is available here.
Back to Top

Utah Video Game Ratings Bill Passes House

The Utah House of Representatives has approved a bill that would penalize retailers who permit the sale of mature-rated video games to children. House Bill 353, introduced by Rep. Michael Morley, R-Spanish Fork, would amend Utah's "Truth in Advertising" law to target stores that promote compliance with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) system but sell mature games to minors. Retailers would face a fine of $2,000 per incident. According to the ESRB, a May 2008 FTC study found that nationally, retailers refused to sell mature-rated games to customers under 17 years old 80 percent of the time, far surpassing comparable compliance rates for movies and music. In Utah, compliance with the voluntary policy reached 94 percent.
Back to Top

AAF Holds Two Meet and Greets

The American Advertising Federation held two meet and greets this week. Industry leaders in Chicago met with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., to discuss advertising regulation in the new Congress. Schakowsky sits on the important House Energy and Commerce Committee and is vice chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. The Energy and Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the Federal Trade Commission and most advertising issues, including direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, food marketing and behavioral advertising.

In Washington, the AAF hosted a meet and greet with Eileen Harrington, acting director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection. Harrington discussed the presidential transition's effects on the agency, congressional efforts to refocus the FTC's direction, and the proposed multiagency task force that would reexamine food marketing to children.

The AAF's next meet and greet is scheduled for April 22 in Washington, D.C., with Rep. Bruce Braley, R-Iowa.
Back to Top

AAF Government Report is available to all members of the AAF. If you are interested in receiving an e-mailed copy, please e-mail

If you are interested in receiving AAF SmartBrief, an opt-in news service, please visit AAF SmartBrief condenses advertising industry news from dozens of media sources into a succinct, easy to read e-mail.

Go to the Government Affairs Main Page.