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Maureen Ohlhausen Addresses PMA Marketing Law Conference

FTC Commissioner Clarifies Agency Role to Largest Gathering in Conference History

CHICAGO, Nov. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Promotion Marketing Association's 34th Annual Marketing Law Conference concluded with a keynote address from FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen

The conference, the largest ever, was attended by more than 650 leading attorneys, brand marketers and policymakers, and featured a robust program including more than 100 presentations on topics surrounding the legal intricacies of brand activation across ever-increasing and evolving media platforms.

In her address, Commissioner Ohlhausen stressed the need for industry leaders to work closely with regulators to protect consumers as best practices are continually being created in advance of legislation.  She also used her time to talk about the ongoing and evolving role of the Federal Trade Commission.

The commissioner noted the FTC's multiple roles providing consumer protection, enforcement and fair competition among businesses.  She identified self regulation as well as certifications and industry standards as important tools for brand marketers.  She also reminded industry leaders that the internet provides consumers with ever-increasing access to information about choices in the marketplace which is a vital tool to ensure better public awareness.

"Fraud prevents honest competition from doing honest business," she said.  "Enforcement mechanisms are important because they reward those who meet them.  That motivates sellers to continue to do the right thing."

Commissioner Ohlhausen told a packed ballroom that advertising sharpens competition and that the FTC 's role is not to impose consumer controls that diminish it.  She called the agency an "enforcement backstop" and made it clear that policy and self-regulation should be considered and written with a consumer mindset and not for other lawyers.

Her remarks touched on several anecdotal examples of FTC activity from the past year involving false advertising claims.  She reviewed the 2012 update of the agency's Green Guides which limit an advertiser's ability to call its product eco-friendly.  She also presented several examples of the continued emergence of privacy issues tied to emerging technologies.

In a follow up question-and-answer session, the commissioner suggested the industry would have to wait at least until year's end for revised COPPA regulations which strive to protect children's privacy online.

About the PMA

Founded in 1911, the New York based PMA is the national non-profit trade association dedicated to the industry of marketing disciplines that motivate behavior, activate response and build brands.  Representing $1trillion in sales, these disciplines include promotion marketing, digital marketing, shopper/retailer marketing, sponsorship and experiential marketing.  The organization's membership is comprised of Fortune 500 companies, top marketing agencies, law firms, retailers, service providers and academia, representing thousands of brands worldwide.  More information is available at


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