PR firm stung by FTC over misleading reviews

Reverb Communications forced to remove reviews of clients' products from iTunes

Games PR firm Reverb Communications, and its sole owner Tracie Snitker, have been ruled against by the US Federal Trade Commission after employees were discovered to have been submitting reviews of Reverb's clients' products to iTunes, purporting to be independent consumers.

The ruling means that Reverb, which has represented Harmonix and Cryptic Studios, will be forced to remove all of its employees' reviews, banning any of the company's representatives from posting any further reviews unless they fully disclose their connection to the product and its owners.

"Companies, including public relations firms involved in online marketing need to abide by long-held principles of truth in advertising," said Mary Engle, director of the FTC’s advertising practices division.

"Advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers."

Reverb's business model involved the company receiving a percentage of the income from its clients' sales, which means that the company falls foul of FTC rules introduced last year, stating that: "an online post by a person connected to the seller, or someone who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product or service, should disclose the material connection the reviewer shares with the seller of the product or service. "

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Latest comments (2)

Andy Payne Chair/founder, AppyNation9 years ago
At last. The majority are starting to get the power away from the minority. Marketing is brilliant when it just tells the truth, but that is so rare. Like great design, simplicity and truth always score over lies.
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Jamie Leece SVP Business Development, Behaviour9 years ago
Suprising that they were able to catch this. I have seen this happen way more often than it should. In many cases well intentioned staff do this without even managements belssing or knowledge. The reality is that real consumers can often see through this and it gives the product a bad vibe and can often hurt more than it helps.

We all need to accept the public's reaction to our products and if we want to do anything about it, we should listen to what is said and influence the product's direction for the better. That is all we can do...
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