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FTC’s crypto marketing probe could spell trouble for ad agencies


With its sights trained on advertising practices, the probe may spell particular trouble for ad agencies, which have been the primary partners helping crypto firms navigate the world of marketing through sponsorships, billboards, TV spots and digital activations. 

The ties between crypto firms and ad agencies run deep. Dentsu Creative had long worked with FTX before its implosion, and Accenture Song worked with Coinbase to develop its award-winning Super Bowl spot—despite Coinbase’s CEO withholding credit. Further, both Wieden+Kennedy and Pereira O’Dell have teamed with Crypto.com on previous campaigns, and just last month, 72andSunny collaborated with Binance on a global marketing push. None of these agencies immediately responded to Ad Age’s requests for comment.

The responsibility that agencies share with the firms they promote will likely be a core consideration in the FTC’s probe. Lartease Tiffith, executive VP of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, doesn’t think agencies should be held accountable if their partners are independently misbehaving, as long as the malpractice is covert.

“They’re not in the operations of the business … they’re at an arm’s length when it comes to the client that they’re working for,” Tiffith said. 

But there is some precedent for ad agencies being held accountable for brands’ marketing practices. In 2017, the FTC filed charges against now-defunct marketing company Synergixx after it created radio ads for dietary supplements. The ads were deemed deceptive for not disclosing the complexity of relevant tasks, as well as featuring spokespeople who actually had no expertise in the subject. 



Read More: FTC’s crypto marketing probe could spell trouble for ad agencies

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