Senate Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Advertising Trends and Consumer Protection

On July 22, 2009, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance held a hearing on advertising trends and consumer protection. David Vladeck, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection testified before the Subcommittee, as well as various industry and consumer advocacy representatives. The hearing focused primarily on Vladeck’s testimony, in which he outlined the FTC’s proposed revisions to its guidelines for testimonials, endorsements, and green marketing.

Those speaking on behalf of consumer advocate groups applauded the FTC’s plans to strengthen its advertising guidelines, while industry representatives raised concerns about the burdens imposed by the revisions, specifically those related to the safe harbor provision for atypical result testimonials. Subcommittee members generally agreed with the FTC and consumer advocacy representatives that consumers need more protection from deceptive marketing practices, but they have not reached a consensus on the extent to which the FTC should regulate advertisers. More details on each of these issues are provided in this advisory, authored by Kelley Drye partner Reed Freeman and associate Alysa Z. Hutnik.