A Glimpse Into the Future for Direct Response Marketers

by Bill McClellan on Aug 20, 2017 10:01:00 AM Government Relations

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It is a new world with new rules of the road. The future is hazy and unclear. Our fast-paced panel, “A Glimpse Into the Future,” at the 2017 Government Affairs Fly-In explored how the changes in government will evolve in our industry and affect your bottom line. So what does the future hold for direct response marketers navigating this new terrain?

This question came up at the Fly-In when we were joined for a panel by guest speakers Ed Glynn, partner, Locke Lord LLP, former U.S. Senator Mark L. Pryor, partner, Venable LLP, and Lee Peeler, President and CEO, Advertising Self-Regulatory Council.

For one, our panellists said that you’ll see state attorneys general pushing Federal Trade Commission (FTC) priorities over the next four years. And as of now, there’s a healthy dynamic between the FTC and state attorneys general which hasn’t always been the case.

Pryor says that state attorneys general could step in where the FTC falls short, but it’s all based on an allocation of resources. There is currently five times more work out there for the FTC than can be handled. He says that there is a very big difference between the offices of state attorneys general than of the FTC. In most states, state attorneys general are completely autonomous and operate at the will of the people. This means that a lawsuit could happen in as quickly as one afternoon. On the other hand, it takes a while for the FTC to be able to go through their channels because there’s a system of checks and balances in place. State attorneys general want to see a change in industry and company practice and they are looking to make an example out of you.

But if you do business nationwide, it can be hard to meet with all 56 state and territorial attorneys general and build those relationships. One technique Pryor recommends is to go to get togethers run by organizations such as The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). NAAG’s goal is to facilitate interaction among attorneys general as peers. What better way to meet them than to go to meetings and pay as you go?

Beyond doing business nationwide, Glynn says there are international factors to consider as well when dealing with the FTC. The FTC has international regulative meetings through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and it’s gotten much larger. There are 110 countries at the OECD that provide regulatory opportunities for sharing of ideas and investing in television advertising regulations. It’s important to note that if your company’s commercial is airing internationally, you can hear from international divisions of the FTC.

Peeler concluded our panel by adding that since there’s a bit of a reduction in the FTC, he doesn’t believe that state attorneys general can completely fill the gap. You might see some different forms of enforcement such as those letters that were sent to social media influencers. The FTC needs to focus on how they can smartly allocate their staff and resources.


 About the Author

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Bill McClellan serves as ERA's Vice President of Government Affairs. Prior to joining the association, Bill worked as a lobbyist at the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, covering the state legislature and Georgia's congressional delegation. Before working for the GADA, Bill managed political campaigns at both the congressional and state constitutional levels.

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