Getting Buzzed Through the Revolving Door

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair Deborah Platt Majoras will leave her government post to work for Procter & Gamble (P&G), the largest U.S. consumer products company. Even though Majoras has excused herself from FTC matters that may impact P&G and will need to follow a year-long "cooling off" period, Multinational Monitor's Robert Weissman is concerned. "P&G is the leading company involved in 'buzz marketing,'" he writes. When Commercial Alert petitioned the FTC to investigate buzz marketing as "fundamentally fraudulent and misleading," the watchdog group cited P&G's teen buzz marketing division, "Tremor." Majoras's FTC agreed that the "assumed independence" of a buzz marketer might mislead consumers, but decided against further investigation or action. "The P&G case -- involving a quarter of a million teens who are not instructed to disclose their relationship with the company -- apparently was not noteworthy enough," Weissman concludes. An FTC ethics staffer said of Majoras's new job, "It is how things work. The nature of the business is the revolving door."