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Posts Tagged ‘truth in advertising’

If there is one thing that boils my blood is a political ad – almost any political ad, especially the ones that explain to you how the other person is worse than the devil and is likely to eat your first-born.  I decided to look at the truth in advertising laws and I’m perplexed how first amendment rights trump truth in advertising for political ads?  Let’s look at some info regarding some aspects of TIA:

Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive.  Why is that?  The FTC defines an ad as deceptive if it contains a statement, or omits information that:

  • Is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances, and
  • Is material – that is, important to the consumer’s decision to buy or use the product

OK – the 60 sec, 90 sec clips that run between shows – typically called ads, are played to encourage consumers to consider buying or a particular product or service.  There are all sorts of ads run about products and services that must comply with these laws.  And most people believe the ads, believe they are truthful, and even know the FTC will go after violators of this law.

So here’s my problem – How does a normal everyday American, watching television, distinguish between an ad that is legally required to tell the truth, and a political ad that – well, is not?  Let’s modify the lines above:

Political Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive.  Why is that?  The FTC defines an ad as deceptive if it contains a statement, or omits information that:

  • Is likely to mislead voters acting reasonably under the circumstances, and
  • Is material – that is, important to the voter’s decision to vote for a particular candidate

The FTC looks at both expressed and implied claims when reviewing deceptive ads – not only what is expressly claimed, but also what is being implied.  Can you just imagine if all the political ads run this season would have been subject to this law?  You might think with all the deception and other BS thrown at us every day and night, how refreshing it would be to hear what each candidate will actually do for us, what we can expect them to accomplish when they are elected.

Maybe it’s time to amend the current Truth in Advertising law to include political advertisements.  Any takers?

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