"Pinning" on the popular website Pinterest may amount
to unlawful consumer endorsement or testimonial.
Consumer endorsements and testimonials have recently garnered a
lot of attention from the National Advertising Division (NAD) and
Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There has been a renewed interest
in assuring that advertisements containing an endorsement or
testimonial are truthful and not misleading, that if an advertiser
does not have proof that an endorser's experience represents
what consumers will achieve when using the product the ad must
clearly and conspicuously disclose the general expected results in
the depicted circumstances, and, if there's a connection
between the endorser and the marketer of the product that would
affect how people evaluate the endorsement, that connection should
Social media websites certainly do not receive special treatment
from the NAD or FTC when it comes to consumer opinion regarding
products and services. This is especially true for advertisers of
dietary and nutritional products. Testimonials claiming specific
results usually will be interpreted to mean that the endorser's
experience is what others can expect. Statements like "Results
not typical" or "Individual results may vary"
won't change that interpretation. If the results are not
typical, an advertiser must clearly and conspicuously disclose the
generally expected performance in the circumstances shown in the
Recently NAD issued a decision regarding the newly popular
website Pinterest. Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board, often
described as a social photo-sharing website where users create and
manage theme-based image collections by "pinning" digital
content they find on the web to their personal boards. NAD began
following Nutrisystem, Inc.'s weight-loss success stories
pinned to such boards. These stories had express claims regarding
consumer's weight loss success, including the consumer's
name, total weight loss, and a link to the Nutrisystem website.
Testimonials which tout atypical results must be qualified by a
clear and conspicuous disclosure noting the results the consumer
can generally expect to achieve using the product in the
circumstances depicted. Such disclosures should appear close in
proximity to the claims they are intended to qualify. NAD found
that it was undisputed that these pins represented consumer
testimonials, and, as such, these pins should be accompanied by a
clear and conspicuous disclosure noting the typical results
consumers can expect to achieve using the Nutrisystem weight loss
Companies need to be aware that both NAD and the FTC closely
scrutinize social media sites, such as Pinterest, Facebook, and
Twitter. As social media websites become more sophisticated and
allow for consumers to become increasingly intertwined with a
company's advertising message, companies need to have
reasonable programs in place to monitor and inform members of their
network of what can and cannot be said about products or
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Corporate tweeters or bloggers – employees who post promotional and often entertaining commentary on behalf of their employers’ businesses – add much of their own personal brand – their voice, their opinions, their snarky remarks – to the information they are disseminating on the company’s behalf.
In a First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry released at the end of March in a proceeding begun in 2003, the Federal Communications Commission continued its comprehensive review of its rules, policies and procedures governing radiofrequency radiation and limits on exposure to human beings.