Ogilvy’s John Bell: FDA Social Media Guidelines Will “Basically Follow Same Process” As FTC Blogging Guidelines


John Bell, President of the Board of Word of Mouth Marketing Association and Managing Director, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, was one of the last presenters today at the FDA’s public hearings on “Promotion of FDA-Regulated Medical Products Using the Internet and Social Media Tools.” We caught up with Bell late yesterday to get his take on the proceedings.

Asked about how much of the hearings pertained to advertising and how much pertained to PR, Bell said, “Today’s stated focus is about what guidelines should be developed for social media, which is this netherworld in between paid and earned media. Unfortunately it covers all grounds.”

Part of the problem, Bell said, is that health-care marketers, “can’t jam all the crap you put into a print ad into a tweet.” So, what is end game with all of this? “We’re spending time today in initial discussions that is as much about how the process should unfold as it is what should be the precise guidelines.” PRNewser’s takeaway: this is going to take a while.

Bell and WOMMA were heavily involved in the recently issued FTC guidelines around disclosure in social media. Drafts for those guidelines were posted for comment late last year, he said, and the final draft came out in October. “I think what will happen with the FDA, is basically to kind of follow the same process,” he said.