The Advertising Law Blog provides commentary and news on developing legal issues in advertising, promotional marketing, Internet, and privacy law. This blog is sponsored by the Advertising, Marketing & Promotions group at Olshan. The practice is geared to servicing the needs of the advertising, promotional marketing, and digital industries with a commitment to providing personal, efficient and effective legal service.

Automatic renewal programs and frictionless cancellation processes continue to garner significant regulatory scrutiny. Now, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is taking action against the software company, Adobe, and two of the company’s executives, Maninder Sawhney and David Wadhwani, regarding the company’s automatic renewal subscription practices, particularly as such practices relate to the company’s subscription enrollment and cancellation pathways. After investigating the company’s subscription practices, the FTC referred the matter to the United States Department of Justice, who in turn filed a complaint in federal court in the Northern District of California.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is making it a priority to monitor credit card rewards programs and crack down on unfair or deceptive acts that prevent consumers from obtaining the advertised benefits of these programs.

As part of its routine monitoring activities, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) of the BBB National Programs recently investigated videos and advertising on Vlad and Niki’s YouTube channel, owned and operated by Content Media Group FZC, LLC (“CMG”), for potential violations of CARU’s Advertising Guidelines and FTC laws and regulations.

Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP has been recognized by The Legal 500 US in its 2024 edition as a Leading Law Firm. The Advertising Practice has again been ranked along with three attorneys. The Shareholder Activism Practice has again been ranked as a Tier One practice, a position it has held since the rankings’ inception, including six of the practice’s attorneys. The rankings are based on feedback from clients, peers and The Legal 500’s independent research.

Without waiting for new federal laws or federal regulators to take action against drip pricing, California is once again leading the way by enacting “Hidden Fee Statute” SB 478, which prohibits businesses from advertising or listing a price for a good or service that does not include all required fees or charges other than certain taxes (such as sales tax) and shipping costs. While this law applies to California sales, given the borderless nature of ecommerce, the mandatory pricing disclosure law will likely impact many businesses, particularly those that use the internet for sales.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has survived a Supreme Court challenge that threatened to render its source of funding unconstitutional. In CFPB v. Community Financial Services Assoc. of America, the Supreme Court, by a ruling of 7-2, approved the ability of the Federal Reserve to provide operational funds to the CFPB. Opponents of the CFPB unsuccessfully argued that the only permissible means of funding should be a congressional appropriation.

In a number of recent high profile cases, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, together with agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, have been targeting fraudulent mail solicitations scams in the U.S. On May 31, 2024, a federal jury in Colorado returned guilty verdicts against two former senior officers of the Epsilon corporation who were charged with selling consumer lists to fraudsters targeting the elderly and vulnerable. The consumer mailing lists provided by the executives to the fraudsters were then used to send scam letters to the victims promising large prizes or falsely personalized astrological mailings promising wealth.  In order to convict, the jury had to find that the two executives knew that the mailing lists would be used in the fraud scams. The case represents an expansion by the government in the scope of those charged in false mailing schemes, beyond the actual perpetrators, seeking to charge all those who knowingly aid and abet these schemes, and not just the mailers.

The failure to comply with National Advertising Division (“NAD”) review processes typically results in a referral to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). This strong enforcement deterrent results in a reported 97% compliance rate with NAD decisions. Recently, NAD has been expanding the agencies to which it refers advertisers that have failed to comply with its rulings or participate in its processes. As discussed below, NAD recently referred the advertising claims of a crisis pregnancy center to the Massachusetts Attorney General for possible enforcement action. In addition, NAD has developed a referral relationship with leading social media platforms, such as Meta, resulting in prompt enforcement of NAD’s recommendations.


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