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False Advertisements and You
By: Matthew Busby
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The average person sees hundreds if not thousands of ads every day. How do consumers decide which ads are false or true? That is the question. Consumers want to believe everything they hear. Well, in this day and age, society is a little bit more skeptical than they used to be. With the help of the FTC, advertisers have been warned for decades about false advertising.
 
Let’s start this out with a company called Listerine. Listerine was the first over-the-counter mouthwash available to consumers in the United States.

 
 
In the 1930s, Listerine claimed that it was a cure-all mouthwash. This advertisement states that by rubbing Listerine into your scalp it was a cure for dandruff. Listerine has also claimed that it was a common cold remedy. In 1976, the FTC ruled that these claims were misleading, and that Listerine had "no efficacy" at either preventing or alleviating the symptoms of sore throats and colds. Warner-Lambert was ordered to stop making the claims, and to include in the next 10.2 million dollars' worth of Listerine ads specific mention that "contrary to prior advertising, Listerine will not help prevent colds or sore throats or lessen their severity."
 
Now, let’s shift gears and talk about the fast food industry. As many consumers know, the burgers or tacos they see on commercials or advertisements are not what they are going to receive. These ads are a comparison of what the advertisement shows and what you will receive.

 
It is important note the Taco Bell meat scandal that happened when Taco Bell claimed that their seasoned meat is 88% beef. That is still not exactly 100%. Does that scare anyone? Well, it probably should. More examples of the fast food industry’s false advertising can be found here.
 
In recent years, the FTC and the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC) have been cracking down on national brands. The Bureau of Consumer Protection is also a major frontrunner in the truthfulness of current advertising. These agencies are responsible for the major fines that Sketchers and Reebok have received for ads that the companies’ sneakers have weight-loss properties.
 
The FTC was created to keep the market fair and just. Now, with the extension of public safety, the FTC has some of its biggest struggles to overcome to keep false advertising at bay. It is also up to the consumer to make rational choices when looking at advertising. Research is the key.


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About the Author
Matthew Busby is currently a student at the University of Tennessee studying advertising and an intern at Scripps Networks Interactive. He has a strong interest in the industry of social media and televison. He also enjoys writing for his own personal blog at www.busybusby.wordpress.com.
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