All age groups re targeted by deceptive advertising it is just a matter of how consumer savvy you are. Almost all companies are guilty of this crime, including Phillip Morris Tobacco, weight loss programs and even grocery stores just to name a few. Under both Federal and State law, an ad is unlawful if it tends to mislead or deceive even if it doesn’t actually fool anyone. If your ad is deceptive you’ll face legal problems whether you intended to mislead the customer or not. What counts is the overall impression created by the ad, not the technical truthfulness of the individual parts.
Consumers are greatly influenced by nettles advertisements urging then to purchase products that they may or may not need or want. The reason that many companies and business falsely inform consumers is purely for more business. If a company feels that a product does not have high enough quality as their competitors, the company will mark down the price and maybe put the product in an eye-catching box or make up a catchy slogan. A lot of consumers can see right through this scheme, but most do not.
While many of these advertisements honestly inform and educate consumers, some are false, deceptive and even illegal. The advertisement does not necessarily have to cause actual deception, but according to the Federal Trade Commission (ETC), the act need only likely mislead the consumer (Federal Trade Commission, [on-line]). Over the years the Federal Trade Commission has taken action against many business accused of engaging in deceptive advertising. If Federal Trade Commission investigators are convinced that an ad violates the law, they usually try to bring the violator in voluntary compliance.
If that doesn’t work, the Federal Trade Commission can issue a cease-and-desist order and bring a civil lawsuit on behalf of people, who have been harmed. Consumers often have the right to sue advertisers under the State consumer protection laws. For example, someone who buys a product in reliance on a deceptive ad might sue in small claims court for a refund or join others to sue for a huge sum in another court. Companies use different models for advertising. According to David Gardner (1975) there are three types of deceptive advertising.
Fraudulent advertising which is an outright lie, false advertising which “involves a claim- fact discrepancy”, such as not disclosing all the conditions to receive a certain promotion or price, and misleading advertising which involves a “claim-belief interaction” (Easel, 1998). An example of claim-belief deception is the Warner-Lambert Listener case. The label on the Listener mouthwash bottle stated “Kills Germs By Millions On Contact” immediately followed by “For General Oral Hygiene, Bad Breath, Colds and Resultant Sore Throats”.
This misled consumers to believe that by using Listener, it could prevent the common cold and sore throat (Warner Lambert, 1978). Listener had to redo its advertising and delete “colds and resultant sore throats”. With all of this fraudulent activity in our society there is still a lot being done o try to stop it. For example, the Federal Trade Commission is trying to stop deceptive advertising by making laws. There are three common elements they kick for in deceptive advertising.
First, there must be “a representation, omission or practice that will likely mislead the consumer’, such as misleading price claims, or an oral or written misrepresentation of a product or service. Oral and misrepresentation is the most common form of deceptive advertising. According to the Better Business Bureau, “an advertisement as a whole may be misleading although every sentence separately is considered true. Second, the Federal Trade Commission examines the misrepresentation from the view of a “reasonable” consumer or particular target group such as the elderly.
And finally, “the representation, omission or practice must be a “material one”. This means that if the misrepresentation is likely to affect the consumers decision whether or not to use or purchase a certain product or service, this is considered material since the consumer may have decided differently if not for the deceptive advertising (Federal Trade Commission, 1998[on-line]). The 1 ass’s have brought on some new targets for deceptive advertisers as ell as a new focus for Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau.
The main target of the ass’s include: antioxidant claims, the diet industry for misrepresenting weight loss claims, environmental or green marketing claims for products claiming that they are good for the environment and are not, 900 numbers for misrepresenting the costs of phones call and the internet. In one year, United Weight Control, Nutria/ System, Inc, the Diet Center, Physician Weight Loss Clinic, Weight Watchers International, Inc and Jenny Craig had all been cited for deceptive advertising ND were made to modify their advertising and marketing practices.
The internet has also been a major source Of deceptive advertising, particularly in regards to privacy issues. The internet has allowed online companies to “collect and use personal information about consumers, often without the consumer’s knowledge or consent” and even uses web sites as a way to collect medical and financial information and even collect information about children. (American Marketing Association, 1 998[on-line]). Besides the Federal Trade Commission, there are several other agencies that monitor advertising and marketing practices.
Next to the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau (BIB) is the key proponent of monitoring truth in advertising and was the primary reason that the Better Business Bureau (BIB) was formed. The National Advertising Review Council (MARC) is another agency that was developed by advertising associations and the Better Business Bureau foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation. Competitors and consumers are also two important monitoring groups.
Competitors can be the best watchdogs for deceptive advertising in their industry and under the Lankan Act; they are blew to sue their competitors for making deceptive claims. Consumers can also monitor companies and report any deceptive advertising or marketing act directly to the Better Business Bureau or file a complaint with the National Advertising Division who will investigate the accusation. So who is liable for deceptive advertising? Clearly the company whose product or service it is, but it does not stop there.
Advertising agencies are now being held liable. If the agency participated in the creation of the advertising and knew or reasonably should have known, that the advertising was deceptive. It is the responsibility of the ad agency to substantiate the claims that a company makes and not rely on the advertiser’s word. Producers of infomercials are also held under scrutiny when a deceptive advertising claim is made against an infomercial. Producers must ask for information to back up the claims being made or risk being liable. Better Business Bureau, 1988 [online]) According to Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, unfair or deceptive advertising or marketing acts or practices are illegal and therefore subject to penalties. The penalties for deceptive advertising and marketing raciest include 1. Cease and desist orders ? the Federal Trade Commission can make a company pull and ad or stop a deceptive marketing practice immediately. This also carries an SSL 1,000 per day ad penalty if a company violates the law again. 2. Civil penalties, consumers redress, and monetary remedies.
This could include monetary payments of millions of dollars, to giving refunds to consumers who purchased the product. 3. Corrective advertising, disclosures and other informational remedies. This may include purchasing additional advertising to correct the misinformation or making the many informs those that purchased the product about the deception. 4. Bans and Bonds, in really bad cases of deception, a company may require to leave the industry or post a bond before reentering the business (Federal Trade Commission, 1998 [on-line]).