Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 13:10 EDT

WOMMA Applauds FTC’s Call for Transparency in Revised Advertising Guidelines

October 5, 2009

CHICAGO, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ — The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), www.WOMMA.org, applauds the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for revising its Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising that can be found at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf

In its commentary, the FTC referenced and adopted WOMMA’s guidance in several instances, looking favorably upon the Association’s own Ethics Code, and adopting WOMMA’s suggestion that only “sponsored” communications should fall within the scope of the Guides. Therefore, adherence to the WOMMA Ethics Code is a critical first step for businesses and marketers in complying with the updated FTC Guides.

Several fundamental principles of WOMMA’s Ethics Code, such as the importance of transparency, disclosure and honesty across all media, are now required by the FTC. WOMMA believes the updated Guides will usher in a new generation word-of-mouth of viral and social media marketers who place the highest priority on ethical practices. WOMMA President Elect Paul Rand explained, “The greatest value we can provide to our 400-plus members is helping them navigate the uncharted waters of social marketing. WOMMA takes great pride in not only equipping members with a venerable compliance ‘how-to,’ but also in the collaborative way we went about influencing policy, itself.”

WOMMA General Counsel Anthony DiResta of Manatt, Phelps & Philips added, “These new FTC Guides constitute a sea change for certain marketing practices that are widespread and effective in all industry sectors. It’s clear that confusion will result in their application by bloggers and brands alike, and there are even rumblings that legal challenges may be brought. Thus, in this period of uncertainty, meaningful self-regulation and practical clarity are essential.” Diresta makes one point clear for marketers, “Transparency and honesty are essential in communications by consumers or experts in all media formats. For those in the advertising industry that use word of mouth, viral marketing, or social media platforms, WOMMA’s Code of Ethics is an excellent and practical way to evaluate compliance with these new Guides.”

WOMMA is confident these Guides will also help the Association enforce its own Ethics Code. According to Joe Chernov, chair of WOMMA’s Member Ethics Advisory Panel, the Association’s primary focus is on educating members on best practices; however, it must also ensure its members are adhering to those practices. Chernov concluded, “Marketing ethics is no longer an ideal. It is now a mandate.”

Over the next several months, WOMMA will lead industry discussions on the topic of what constitutes adequate and meaningful disclosure. This dialogue will culminate in November at the association’s annual Summit in Las Vegas, when WOMMA will dedicate educational sessions to help marketers understand and adhere to these new Guides. In fact, Mr. Chuck Harwood, the FTC’s Deputy Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, is a featured speaker.


WOMMA, www.WOMMA.org, is the leading trade association in the marketing and advertising industries that focuses on word of mouth, consumer-generated and social media platforms — or marketing techniques that include buzz, viral, community, and influencer marketing as well as brand blogging. The organization is committed to developing and maintaining appropriate ethical standards for marketers and advertisers engaging in such marketing practices, identifying meaningful measurement standards for such marketing practices, and defining “best practices” for the industry.

Founded in 2005, WOMMA currently has approximately 400 members. They include marketers and brands that use word-of-mouth marketing to reinforce their core customers and to reach out to new consumers, agencies that deliver word-of-mouth services and technologies, researchers that track the word-of-mouth experience and offline and online practitioners.

SOURCE Word of Mouth Marketing Association

Source: newswire