Advertising and Marketing Standards

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary agency responsible for handling consumer protection matters. The FTC regulates and prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce pursuant to Section 5 of the FTC Act.

As a general rule, claims in advertisements must be truthful and not misleading, express and implied claims must be substantiated before they are made, and qualifying information must be presented whenever a disclosure is required to avoid misleading consumers.

State authorities, other federal agencies, and self-regulatory bodies, may also be involved in advertising regulation and enforcement. For example, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices (UDAP) in trade or commerce. Most of the UDAP laws are general and cover any kind of practice deemed unfair” or deceptive” in the state. In addition, advertising practices associated with food and drug labelings are heavily regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while advertising for alcoholic beverages are primarily regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the BBB National Programs also monitors and evaluates truth and accuracy in national advertising.

The general principles of advertising law apply to both traditional forms of advertising, as well as to advertisements online, in social media, and on mobile platforms.