Covert Marketing Unmasked: A Legal and Regulatory Guide for Practices That Mask Marketing Messages

Ross D. Petty, Babson College
Craig J. Andrews, Marquette University


Masked marketing—one form of covert marketing—involves marketing communications that appear to be from independent third parties rather than from product marketers. This article presents a typology of masked marketing practices, illustrating whether they may be deceptive to consumers. To accomplish this, the authors apply the Federal Trade Commission's three-part definition of deception (i.e., misleadingness, reasonable consumer, and materiality) in the evaluation of such practices. The article concludes with policy recommendations including areas for further research.


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