The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a press release indicating that, following a review of many national television and print advertisements, warning letters have been sent to a number of companies – including some of the largest advertisers in the United States – noting that they had failed to make adequate disclosures in some of their advertising. The initiative, entitled Operation Full Disclosure, is intended to enforce regulations that prohibit misleading advertising.

The FTC's targets in this operation are disclosures in fine print – those that are hard to read even though they contain important information for the consumer. The letters warned advertisers that they need to ensure that disclosures are clear and conspicuous, and reminded them that disclosures should be close to the claims that are being made. They must not be obscure or disguised with font sizes or colours that make them difficult to read. On television, disclosures should appear for a sufficiently long period and in a manner that will allow them to be actually read and understood.

Each letter included a request that the advertiser respond to the FTC with specific actions that it intends to take regarding its particular advertising, to remedy any deficiencies.

Joseph I Rosenbaum

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