Unwanted Attention For Ann Taylor

I had a great time being part of a panel for the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. One of the topics that we discussed was the FTC’s concern about bloggers disclosing affiliations when they endorse a product. Almost on cue, Advertising Age reports that Ann Taylor has bee investigated by the FTC concerning a promotion it ran recently where it offered gifts to bloggers who posted coverage of a preview of the summer 2010 collection. The FTC declined to take action, but it looks like a warning shot. One of the questions that came up last night was why the FTC would require bloggers to disclose any affiliation or compensation when the main stream media doesn’t seem to have such an obligation. It may be a question of perception. I suppose the thinking is, when a movie critic writes about a movie, we understand it’s part of their job. And we don’t suspect that the review is affected if they saw the film for free. When a blogger talks about much they like a new film, we may assume that’s just a personal, unbiased opinion. There’s not a similar expectation. So the FTC seems to be insisting that, if the blogger has some other motive for it’s enthusiasm it needs to be disclosed.