Even though the agency decided not to take action against the retailer, Ann Taylor, the investigation puts retailers on notice that it is taking seriously guidelines published in October 2009 that require bloggers to clearly disclose any “material connection” to an advertiser, including payments for an endorsement or free product.
- FTC.gov: FTC Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials
- Businessjournalism.org: Bloggers: FTC has new guidelines for endorsements
The case involved Ann Taylor’s invitation to bloggers to preview the Loft division’s summer 2010 collection. The retailer offered a “special gift” and promised that any blogger posting coverage from the event would be entered into a “mystery gift-card drawing,” where they could win between $50 and $500.
As AdAge reports:
The event and the unusual request for posts to be submitted for a prize received media scrutiny and caught the eye of the FTC. “We were concerned that bloggers who attended a preview on January 26, 2010 failed to disclose that they received gifts for posting blog content about that event,” Mary Engle, the FTC’s associate director-advertising practices, wrote in a letter dated April 20 to Ann Taylor’s legal representation.
The FTC said it decided not to take action against Ann Taylor, because, according to the company, the plea to bloggers during the January Loft preview was the first and, to date, only such event.
So, Bloggers remember there is no free lunch.
And Business Journalists, that’s what the FTC is not doing. Don’t forget to take a look at their website regularly to see what they are doing. FTC.gov There are good consumer-based stories there every day.
- FTC Tells Congress It Is Reviewing Whether Technology Changes Call for Revisions to the Agency’s Rule Protecting Kids’ Online Privacy