DMA Releases New Guidelines for Testimonials and Endorsements
January 25, 2010 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today announced its Board of Directors has approved the recommended changes to DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice for testimonials and endorsements in all channels. DMA, through its Ethics Policy Committee, and both Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) and Government Affairs experts developed and recommended these amendments to keep DMA’s Guidelines consistent with the FTC’s new Guides for Testimonials and Endorsements.
Under DMA’s new Guidelines, marketers must clearly and conspicuously disclose the generally expected or typical results/performance of the advertised products or services, if the claims made are not typical of what a user could expect under normal circumstances. This is in contrast to the previous version of DMA’s Guidelines and the 1980 version of the FTC Guides, both of which allowed marketers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical.” DMA’s revised Guidelines and the FTC Guides no longer allow for this safe harbor.
DMA’s revised Guidelines also reinforce the need for marketers to disclose any material connections between marketers and their endorsers which the consumer would not expect. A material connection refers to a connection between the endorser and marketer that materially affects the weight or credibility of the endorsement such as payments or free products, or an employer/employee relationship. This includes endorsements that are conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.
DMA’s Guidelines also address celebrity endorsements. Marketers should ensure that their celebrity endorsers disclose their relationships with marketers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional advertisements, such as on talk shows or in social media, and they should not knowingly make statements that are false or unsubstantiated.
The Guidelines apply to both traditional and new interactive media, including but not limited to social networking sites, online message boards, blogging, and “word-of-mouth” marketing. The Guidelines are enforced by the DMA’s Committee on Ethical Business Practices through its casework process.
DMA’s Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR) department will assist members with compliance, including its ‘Rules of the Road for Direct Marketers’ 2010 Compliance Webinar Series.
To review DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, please click here.
To review the FTC’s Revised Testimonials & Endorsements Guides, please click here.
About Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA advocates standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers, and provides cutting-edge research, education, and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the end-to-end direct marketing process. Founded in 1917, DMA today represents more than 3,100 companies from dozens of vertical industries in the US and 48 other nations, including nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.
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