AAF HELPS FTC FIGHT TELEMARKETER SWINDLES

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The American Advertising Federation is unveiling an ad campaign to help the Federal Trade Commission combat telemarketing fraud in a move designed to present marketers and media companies as potential allies of government.

AAF is promising FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky that it will develop radio and print ads and enlist commitments from media companies to run the ads, as a demonstration of one alternative to government regulation.

The print and radio ads, being prepared by Wunderman Cato Johnson, New York, seek to meet some of the FTC's concern about telemarketing schemes aimed at home businesses.

"While [the American Association of Retired Persons] will do a campaign aimed at seniors, we will try to reach two other segments," said Wally Snyder, president of the AAF. "We have a campaign directed at people who are vulnerable because of downsizing and those people who are seeking supplemental income through home businesses."

When the ads are formally unveiled at a Jan. 22 meeting, the FTC and AAF will try to enlist additional media companies and marketers to support the effort.

The theme for the ads is already set: "If it is too good to be true, it probably is."

AAF sees the public service announcement campaign as an important step towards building a relationship with the FTC.

"The thing that is different about this is it is a direct partnership with the FTC. Advertising plays a significant and defined role," Mr. Snyder said.

"We view the FTC as a client and us as a resource. It makes a lot of sense for industry because we benefit from the telemarketing and the customers being ripped off are our customers. People have got to be able to trust telemarketing as a medium."

Mr. Pitofsky, who met with AAF officials Dec. 14 to discuss the campaign, on the same day used a keynote address at the annual Harlan Page Howard Lemon advertising awards given by the Center for Science in the Public Interest to say the FTC would try to derive some creative remedies to prevent or correct deceptive ad claims.

Mr. Pitofsky called the FTC "the cop walking the nation's ad beat" and said the agency's recent action against products like the Miracle Ear, Dannon yogurt, STP motor oil additive and Sierra antifreeze demonstrated the agency was prepared to act.

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