Thursday, July 16, 2009
FTC seeks comments on bloggers' promotion of products received as free samples from vendors
The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment concerning its Guides for the User of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, with its pdf reference here. As noted here before, “amateur” bloggers have become increasingly effective in reaching an audience with views on consumer products (this has been noted since about 2002) and some companies do give bloggers free samples of products or services for review. I have sometimes received such requests by email. In one case, I got a ‘free” DVD of an educational film from an oil company and did review it on my movies blog (but I did explain how I got the copy).
The New York Times has an article July 12 by Pradnya Joshi “Approval by a blogger may please a sponsor” here. Gradually, companies are finding that informal blogs could be a major source of support for their products, a long step from network television of a few decades ago (when I worked for NBC myself in the 1970s), but very much with the times. But should consumers be told that a product or service was supplied free for review? It’s beginning to sound reasonable that they should.
Update: Aug. 16, 2009
James P. Othmer has a Washington Post Outlook story today (Aug. 16) “Skip Past the ads: you’re still being sold” (link here.) The story refers to the practice of the pharmaceutical industry to hire "ghostwriters" and says that the FTC guidelines have been updated.
Important: No one pays me to discuss and products or services on any of my web posts (that would apply to everything, including film and book reviews.
See also Aug. 20 on this blog.