The Federal Trade Commission recently laid out some clearer "guidelines" for bloggers and web marketers. I spent the other day reading over some of their "clarifications." One of the major points was that saying "results may vary" just isn't enough anymore. In other words, if you use a quote/testimonial from someone who says:
"I made a million bucks using this."
Or, "I lost six tons eating this."
Or, "This is the best blog ever."
...well, if that's not what most people can expect, you have to take it down or clarify emphatically. Something like:
Bob made a million bucks. Most people make $6.23.
Sally lost six tons. The average weight loss is 2 ounces.
Luke thinks this is the best blog. Google doesn't agree.
That kind of thing.
The FTC said that this isn't a double standard. No. Instead, regular media is already held to this and it's those pesky bloggers who have been getting away with all kinds of nefarious things...
Well, I was in the bank today and I saw an ad playing on one of the screens. It was for Avon. The ad was very similar to this one.
Just a subtle, "It's possible you may not make 800 bucks in the first few weeks." No mention of "typical" or average results at all.
Because explaining why this testimonial doesn't apply to you in a 30 second commercial would mutilate your sales pitch.
I see a huge double standard.
I'm happy that the FTC looks out for lies and fake testimonials. Keep that up because lying should not be an acceptable sales technique. But it's utterly ridiculous to render true testimonials so ineffectual--especially if you're only going to crack down on bloggers and webmaster who leave comments on their site.
Your Media Production Mentor