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Paul Zimmerman
pzimmerman@mrllp.com
310.299.5500

Showing 76 posts in Advertising & Digital Media.

Advertising & Digital Media
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A “Reason to Believe” the FTC Is Quite Unhappy

In a complete turnabout, a Northern District Court in Georgia recently reversed itself and dealt a significant blow to the Federal Trade Commission, limiting its capacity to state claims against defendants for consumer fraud. In FTC vs. Hornbeam Special Situations, LLC, the court held that the Commission could no longer seek to punish bad actors based solely on past behavior. Instead, currently existing or threatened violations of the FTC Act must be alleged for the FTC to bring a successful action against any defendant accused of bilking consumers. (Read more)

Advertising & Digital Media
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Pfizer Settles With New York Attorney General Over "Pay No More Than" Claims

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer probably wishes it had to “pay no more than” $15 to settle allegations brought by the New York Attorney General, but actual penalties recently levied against the company by the AG are quite a bit steeper.

The settlement in question stems from Pfizer deceptively marketing a copayment coupon program. The problematic copayment coupons stated in large, clear text that eligible consumers would “PAY NO MORE THAN” $15 or $20 out-of-pocket for certain drugs. This was untrue. In fact, consumers frequently paid significantly more than the amounts advertised on the coupons because prearranged limits on total savings were not prominently disclosed. Indeed, Pfizer allowed the coupons to be distributed to consumers without clearly and conspicuously setting forth the promotions’ material terms and conditions. As a consequence, at least one person who believed a prescription would cost “no more than” $15 ended up paying nearly $145 at a pharmacy cash register. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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A Formula for Trouble: New York AG Settles With Abbott Labs Over Misleading Surveys

Abbott Labs, the maker of Similac infant formula, found itself in some hot water after sending misleading marketing surveys to new parents. The surveys, ostensibly sent by the “National Institute of Infant Nutrition,” sought information about the recipients’ demographics and their infants’ feeding habits. In terms of the latter, the survey asked, whether or not babies had been breast-fed and, if formula-fed, the brand of formula parents used. The problem is that when the surveys were sent, there was no known entity named the “National Institute of Infant Nutrition (NIIN),” and Abbott used the survey information for its own marketing purposes. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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The Consumer Review Fairness Act: Compliance and the Quest for Transparent Customer Assessment

In the age of Yelp, Facebook Amazon and Trip Advisor, most people make purchasing, dining, travel and entertainment decisions based on reviews posted by fellow consumers. These reviews are critical for both would-be customers and businesses, and it is crucial that they honestly reflect the quality of a company’s products, services and customer service. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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Wavebreak Media Ltd © 123RF.com

The GDPR Comes to the Golden State

California has hopped on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) bandwagon with the California Consumer Privacy Act just signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The new data privacy law – which was unanimously approved by the state legislature and is the strictest in the U.S. – is GDPR-like to the extent it allows consumers to control how their personal data is collected, processed and shared. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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Tracy Le Blanc © pexels.com

Social Media Influencers Who Pay . . . No Way

If your company promotes itself through social media with the help of influencers, then it is a participant in the influencer economy. But because influencers come with a price, you must consider if they are worth the money — and just how influential they truly are.

Companies spend mightily to attach themselves to online tastemakers and social media stars (those with impressive numbers of followers). These individuals — from actors and athletes to mom bloggers and teenage Instagram and Snapchat giants — leverage their booming popularity and social media presence in exchange for lucrative deals with brands. Need proof? An influencer with a million followers can earn upwards of $20,000 for a single promotional tweet. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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amuzica © depositphotos.com

Costco Takes Its Coffee with Cream and a Civil Penalty

The Federal Trade Commission doesn’t have a monopoly on consumer fraud claims – just ask the folks at Costco.

Recently, the District Attorney of Alameda County in California joined with 24 other DA’s in the state in settling a case against Costco Wholesale Corporation and JBR, Inc., a coffee company better known as San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee and the Rogers Family Company. Costco and JBR agreed to pay a total of $500,000 in civil penalties and costs stemming from untrue and misleading marketing claims made on plastic coffee pods sold by the companies. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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Felix Lipov © 123RF.com

The Key to Native Advertisement in Three Words: Disclose, Disclose, Disclose

There is little doubt that when done right, native advertising works. Digital ads that mimic, in substance or form, news, feature articles, product reviews, social media banter, or entertainment – read, they come across as anything but advertisement – can be extraordinarily effective when it comes to user engagement. But for advertisers, the use of native advertisement is a double-edged sword. Native advertising – equal parts innovative and creative – has the tendency to cross the line from clever to deceptive. Which is why, for years, native advertising has been in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). Indeed, if there is possible consumer confusion as to whether an advertisement is, in fact, an advertisement (or the affiliation of an endorser is organic), the FTC can and will commence an enforcement action – even where the product claim itself is truthful and accurate. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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Wang Song © 123RF.com

Advertising Agencies Beware: Your Clients Aren’t The Only Ones On The Hook For FTC Violations

In what amounts to one of the largest judgments ever obtained by the FTC against an ad agency, one such company (the “Agency”) has agreed to pay $2 million to resolve a complaint arising from its creation and dissemination of deceptive radio spots for weight-loss products marketed by one of its clients. The complaint, which was made on behalf of the FTC and State of Maine, alleges that between 2006 and 2015, the Agency made false or unsubstantiated weight-loss claims for two separate products; this on the heels of creating similarly misleading ads for another client’s product – one that was the subject of an FTC complaint filed in 2014. In that matter, the Agency’s client agreed to refund in excess of $25 million to defrauded consumers. (Read More)

Advertising & Digital Media
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hxdbzxy  © 123RF.com

The Ultimate Trade-Off Now Being Offered by Verizon

Verizon Wireless is offering a new reward program called Verizon Ups which allows customers to earn credits that can be redeemed for various offerings, including concert and movie tickets and smartphones. Of course, there’s a catch – being a Verizon customer isn't enough. Participants must also sign up for Verizon Selects, enabling the company to track customers and sell ads based on collected data. (Read More)