5 Takeaways from #NAD2021

Checking in on the system of self-regulation in the ad industry.

| Jason Bagley

Every year since 2014, I have attended the National Advertising Division’s annual conference. And every time I go to one of these conferences I can’t help but feel like I am entering the lion’s den. In a roomful of advertising attorneys whose reasons for attending likely include learning how far they can push the limits of truthful advertising for their clients, I am the odd one out. But for the last two years, the event has been held virtually due to COVID, sparing me the quizzical looks directed by some at a name tag that proclaims: “Staff Writer at”

This was the case last week, when NAD celebrated 50 years of self-regulation in the advertising industry. Here are five tweets that tell the story of #NAD2021.

Increasingly, brands are weighing in on social issues, though there were differing opinions voiced during a Wednesday panel on whether it’s appropriate for brands to publicize their position on every social issue of the day. While one speaker remarked that “an omission of a statement speaks volumes as far as consumers are concerned,” another asked, “Is that really our role?” One thing everyone agreed on: statements related to social issues will quickly be called out by consumers if they appear cursory or hypothetical and are not followed by action.

When it comes to third-party certifications, has noted how some of the organizations that offer certification rely on companies’ statements without verifying the information themselves.

That’s all the more reason influencers and brands need to ensure that advertising disclosures are “clear and conspicuous,” in accordance with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides.

I found this interesting because it reminded me of the time we identified hip-hop producer DJ Khaled as a Ciroc influencer because he included #ad and tagged @Ciroc in a February 2020 Instagram post in which he is seen holding a bottle of the vodka, only to be informed by Ciroc’s parent company, Diageo, that the liquor giant and DJ Khaled formally cut ties at the end of 2019.

FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter delivered the keynote address on Friday. In her remarks, Slaughter made the point that consumers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their personal data to participate in a digital society. She signaled her support for opening a rulemaking proceeding to address data collection abuses, two days after fellow FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips wrote in an op-ed that privacy legislation should be left to Congress. “I don’t think we can wait for Congress to act,” Slaughter said.

Until next year.

Jason Bagley

Jason Bagley, writer at, is still romantic about journalism and believes in its power to educate and inform.

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