During the opening day of the ERA Government Affairs Fly-In, Mary E. Power, president and CEO the Council of Better Business Bureaus, congratulated the DR industry on 10 years of successful self-regulation.
Following are Ms. Power’s May 20th remarks…
"It is such a pleasure to be here with you this afternoon to celebrate this 10th anniversary of the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program. I am delighted to be here, and proud to represent the 200 corporations and associations that are National Partners of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and the 112 local BBBs across North America, all working together with a commitment to industry self-regulation and to grow and improve trust in the marketplace.
This has been the over-arching goal of BBB for more than 100 years. What you may not know is that truth-in-advertising was the very first cause to be taken up by BBB; it was the issue that we were founded on in 1912 when some visionary corporate executives were driven to create “The Ten Commandments of Advertising,” a document that was the bedrock for the new organizations then known as Vigilance Committees, but which later became known as Better Business Bureaus.
Those pioneers in ethical business standards could not have imagined the world of advertising today, where commercials can sound like television programs, social media serves up tailored ads based on our Internet searches, manufacturers pay to have their products in movies, and consumers are bombarded with five thousand or more advertising messages every day.
This cacophony has become nothing more than “noise” or information clutter, and it’s making it harder and harder for marketers and advertisers to stand out. That leads to the temptations of exaggeration and hyperbole, at the very least and, at the worst, outright false advertising and fraudulent claims. It is in this environment that industry self-regulation can shine the light of ethical behavior and standards that level the competitive playing field.
We have so much to be grateful for this afternoon as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of ERSP. First and foremost, I want to thank our friends from the Electronic Retailing Association. This program could not be a success – indeed, would not even be here – without the enthusiastic support of the direct response industry, your members, and your board of directors and your CEO Julie Coons. The association’s commitment to ethical standards, to raising the bar, is a shining example of industry self-regulation at its best. Although participation in ERSP is voluntary, you have an incredibly high rate of member participation, and you have since the program’s inception. Your membership should be commended for its active participation in, and support for, the ERSP program.
Secondly, I want to thank and recognize the outstanding support of the Federal Trade Commission, its commissioners and its staff, many of whom are here today to help us celebrate. Behind a successful industry self-regulation program must be the “teeth” of regulation that keeps the bad apples on notice. It’s hard to imagine a better partner for Council of Better Business and ASRC than the FTC in helping us keep this program, as well as our other national industry self-regulatory programs, strong and influential. Thanks to all of you at the FTC for your incredible support. We appreciate you and we applaud you.
I would be remiss if I did not thank our staff – Lee Peeler, Peter Marinello, Jessica Grodzki and Leanne Gabinelli. They are amazing. They have done an excellent job and have earned the respect and trust of both the industry and the FTC. For ten years, they and their colleagues have worked tireless to fulfill ERSP’s mission “to enhance consumer confidence in electronic retailing.” They evaluate, investigate and analyze the advertising claims made by direct response companies, providing the backbone of the program with their expertise and enthusiasm. Whether the case is based on a complaint by a consumer, a charge by a competitor, or through their own, independent research, the ERSP staff is committed to the integrity of the process and they are inspired by the cooperative spirit of both the ERA and the FTC.
For ten years, ERSP has earned the respect of the direct-response industry through its expeditious, fair and unbiased reviews of the advertising claims made by electronic retailers. As you may know, over the last two years ERSP broadened its monitoring to include the telemarketers and live seminar providers and we are hopeful that others in these industries will follow their example and join the self-regulatory initiative.
It’s been a decade that has seen many changes in your industry, but what has remained unchanged is your commitment to fair and honest advertising. This is a celebration for each and every one of us, as well as a celebration for the American consumer who ultimately reaps the benefits of the work you all do.
Again, thank you for your great work, and for inviting me to be part of this wonderful celebration."