New FTC regulations affecting product testimonials?


Regular Member
Oct 28, 2008
Even though I'm Canadian, most of my business is in the USA so I'm concerned about the new FTC regulations affecting my business. I know with testimonials I'd need to specify the earnings an average customer can expect to make with the product, but do I need to state that under each testimonial, or can I just put it in a disclaimer statement in the footer? For example, this customer testimonial:

I bought a bulk lot of *********** from ********** Distributing and managed to sell all 10 of them within the first 2 days on Ebay. I only got about $5 profit from each one after fees and stuff, but that was enough to convince me to try again. I ordered a larger bulk lot, so far 28 of them have sold. This is unbelievable!! Thank you!!!

if I were to say something like "The average user who bought this business guide probably doesn't make any money. The gentleman quoted above was a f***ing rockstar with his business, and he made way more cash than you ever will." underneath the testimonial, it would seriously undermine it's value. (note: I wouldn't actually use that as a disclaimer, but you get my point). This business is completely white hat, so I want to comply with the regs... just as little as I have to, I mean.

(My website is currently offline while it's being redesigned, and I want to include FTC compliance with the new design, hence this question.)

I actually have no data on how much the other people are making with my products, because the ones who never do anything with them don't bother to report back on their status because that would be, well, doing something.

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I notice this isn't a very popular thread, and I wish there were more discussion on this topic. Anyway, here's my take:

Think about how you can spin the disclaimer and make it seem like a natural part of your copy.

For example:

[Testimonial:] "Bob Jones made a million dollars with this program."

[Example 1: Disclaimer that plays to reader's sense of self/ego:] Granted, Bob is an unusual case. The average purchaser of this product makes no money. But you're not average, are you, dear reader? You really want this, don't you? You're going to bust ass and take names to achieve your goals, aren't you? You're sick and tired of working 9 to 5, making a meager paycheck, not being able to spend time with your family? I know - I was once there.

... [Segues into story of my life.]

[Example 2: Disclaimer designed to challenge the reader:] Look, I know Bob is an unusual case here and I'd be lying if I said everyone can duplicate his success. It's likely you'll make no money with this product. Why? Because you're a lazy ass fuck, that's why! Because you'll never put anything in action! You'll die a poor, bitter man!

Or will you?

[Example 3: Disclaimer designed to boost your credibility:] I'm going to level with you. I sold thousands of copies of this program. Do I have thousands of people making millions like Bob? No - the average purchaser makes no money. But that's to be expected - people who fail to take massive action also fail to reap massive profits.

Bob isn't exceptional or a genius. But he does know how to bust ass - this product simply showed him the way. Are you ready to see the way?

IANAC*, so cut it out with the fucking giggling back there.

*I Am Not A Copywriter.
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Here's a faux news report I found that appears to be making some efforts to comply with the FTC guidelines:

"She claims that it consisted of taking the Acai Berry pills, making sure she drank 8 glasses of water a day and cutting down on as much sugar as she could."

See 255.2(c), Example 4. Basically, when you describe in detail all the actions an individual took to achieve a certain result (revealing all the factors contributing to that result are made known), you can use a specific testimonial.

"The average person loses 15 pounds every 4 weeks, some people lose more."

See 255.2(c), Example 2. Describes a typical consumer's experience.

My guess is that over time we'll be seeing more of these faux news reports and fewer flogs, because people expect news reports to be objective and provide "good journalism," describing what a typical consumer might expect - I'd argue that this kind of elaboration does a decent job lending credibility to the article. Hell, it might even increase conversions. :D
As far as my understanding of the new FTC rules go, that site wouldn't be in compliance. They've basically sidstepped the whole testimonial issue though, and presented it as if it were a news story.. I've seen this format for several things, lately it's been weight loss and tooth whitening...

Doesn't really apply to my product, since I have about 15 related items that I sell together on one website.. each product page has it's own testimonials, as well as a few on the main page.. not using a long format sales letter on the site.

I still need to know if a disclaimer has to go under each testimonial or if I can just link to one in the footer.. anyone know?
My take on listening to this audio by Jim Edwards and Rich Cleland (FTC's Ass't Director in the Division of Advertising Practices) is that you should disclose as much as possible and not make outrageous claims. He claims that his specific expertise is with health claims and health product marketing.

After listening to this painfully boring audio it is clear that the FTC is still the big lion with no teeth and no claws. If someone lives over the line you might get their attention but in my opinion there is no way that they are going to be able to enforce EVERYTHING because they don't have the time or resources. If they enforced everything then people like Mike Ki.mble wouldn't be running the streets.

If they do anything they might find the worst of the worst (Per.ry B*lch*r Types) and make an example of them, but there is way too much going on in the world to get all of the bad guys involved in a particular "scam" together for a date in court.

IMHO, this appears to be a "scare tactic" to get people to over disclose everything. I'm not suggesting anything I do is not on the up and up, but if the law came down on me and said that I had to disclose everything I might be inclined to disclose the hell out of everything to the point where the reader will be so overwhelmed that they just click the button to close the window so they can move on to what got them to my page anyway.

Whole lot of BS about NOTHING!

This audio can be found here:


PS I wonder how long Jim Edwards had to beg this boring, self-important FTC moron to do an interview for his blog?
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