About a year ago, the FTC updated its guidelines on testimonials. I wrote a post about it on my other blog (for work) if you’d like to read that article. The highlights of the guideline updates were around transparency of results and testimonials. The updates included more guidelines around revealing any “material connection” between advertisers and endorsers. In other words, if the endorser received money or any other kind of payment for their endorsement, it needs to be disclosed.
This past week, I noticed the execution of these guidelines on a couple of TV commercials. Fairly interesting. This first one was the most interesting to me. It was an advertisement for a car (I don’t recall which one). The story line was essentially a couple talking about their future together and how this car was going to be a part of that future, etc. But that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is the disclaimer line: Individuals were remunerated. What the hell does that mean? I’m probably just a big dummy, but I didn’t know what that statement meant. And I figure most people don’t.
Pay (someone) for services rendered or work done
Yeah, it basically means that person got paid to say what they said. This seems fair enough at first. But then it also makes me wonder if this was a “real testimonial” and the people were thanked and given some money, or if they were just paid actors reading lines, parading as “real people.” Either way, they were paid. But I can’t tell if this was an actual testimonial or not. I feel like I’m being duped.
Here’s the other one – an ad for Vonage – explaining that these people shared their stories in exchange for an opportunity to appear on a television commercial. I think the description of this disclaimer is far less furtive. I think it’s much more honest and I applaud Vonage for their transparency in respecting the new guidelines. Don’t you?