The new endorsement guidelines presented by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) take effect on December 1, 2009. The guidelines are not new laws, but they help explain how bloggers can avoid being investigated by the FTC for deceptive advertising.
Personally, I'm against free boxes from the card companies. I've talked about this on the Wax Heaven and Beckett blogs and via twitter with Mario and Chris Olds. However, if you're going to do it, here are some keys to keep you out of FTC trouble.
Area #1 - Testimonial Results
Area #2 - Disclosures
Area #3 - Blogger Endorsement
The guidelines also discuss coupons for free products. If a company sends you a coupon for a free product, any review of that product would not be considered an endorsement. That's assuming the coupon is also available to people who do not have blogs to check out new products. Hmm.... that sounds like the voucher system I've been talking about all the time.
Again, I'm not a lawyer or work in compliance. I don't believe getting a free box of cards to review is in the best interest of the consumer. If you do, please keep these areas in mind so you avoid FTC issues after Dec. 1, 2009.
Here are some helpful links about the new guides. I also referred to a Marketing Sherpa article as some source information.
FTC: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising