While lots of us were quite concerned about how the FTC might enforce its seemingly arbitrary new disclosure guidelines, so far, it should be admitted, that the FTC has enforced these new rules carefully. It did, for example, warn clothing retailer Ann Taylor for giving gift cards to bloggers who covered their new line of clothes. That was interesting in that it targeted the retailer, rather than the bloggers themselves -- but was potentially problematic in that blaming a retailer for potential actions of bloggers doesn't seem like correct application of liability. Still, in that case, the FTC only issued a warning.
That said, you could argue, at this point, that most people recognize that some percentage of online reviews come from insiders or friends anyway. And, considering that the FTC's explanation for why such rules did not apply to celebrities was that most people understand that celebrities get free stuff all the time, this all seems like something of an arbitrary standard. I don't have a problem with the FTC cracking down on these fake reviews, but it's still not clear that the FTC has an objective standard here, rather than an arbitrary one.
We've been big supporters of the idea that Hollywood and the movie theaters should be investing more in providing experiences like super large screen IMAX theaters, because that enhances the movie-going experience well beyond what can be replicated with a home theater today. And, indeed, we're starting to see some of that. However, it appears that some theaters and perhaps IMAX itself, have gotten the wrong message out of all of this. Via Digg, we're alerted to someone complaining that he drove out of his way and paid an extra $5 at an AMC theater in order to see the new Star Trek movie in IMAX. Except... he discovered it wasn't actually the IMAX that we all think about when we hear the word. A little investigating turned up the news that IMAX and some theaters have started marketing IMAX's new digital theater projection system as an IMAX-branded experience, despite it being nothing like what most people think of when they hear the word IMAX. It's difficult to see how that's not a deceptive and unfair business practice by IMAX and AMC -- especially when they're charging an extra $5 for it.
What's really stunning is that IMAX would risk such massive damage to its brand with this stunt. It's difficult to fathom how massively such a move could backfire on a company whose brand image is probably its most valuable asset.