Friday, May 30, 2014

Truth and Trust in Advertising

Too-good-to-be-true pricing, too-perfect-to-be-true photos. No wonder half of all U.S. consumers don't trust ad content, as shown in the graph below from a study. In fact, 58% of U.S. consumers are in favor of stronger claim requirements to back what advertisers say or show in a message.

Truth in advertising is a legal issue; trust in advertising has important ethical implications.

Here are three recent developments in the area of truth in advertising:
  • Southwest Airlines recently paid a hefty fine for advertising $59 coast-to-coast fares that weren't actually available. Consumers could buy some $59 tickets, just not between all the cities mentioned in the ad. 
  • Nissan recently settled an FTC complaint involving an ad featuring a Nissan Frontier truck pushing a dune buggy up a hill, which the Frontier is not actually capable of doing. The case concerned misrepresentation of the Frontier's capabilities.
  • Critics want to call attention to altered photos in ads, such as when women models are made to look skinnier. The bill calls for the FTC to report on this practice and seek input from stakeholders on the effects. A petition supporting this bill passed 20,000 signatures just days ago.

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