Advertisers have a rather unique responsibility in their hands. Their primary duty is to promote their products in a way that makes them sound attractive to consumers. This sounds rather straight forward, but it’s a little more complicated than it appears. In the process of hyping up an item or service, it can be very tempting to make unfounded claims or present facts in a disingenuous manner. Fudging the details is something most every advertiser is guilty of, but outright deception is unquestionably against the law.
Truth in marketing has always been a highly controversial topic and some advocates claim that the government tolerates false advertising to an unacceptable degree. Deceptive claims are especially prevalent among the health foods, vitamins, and supplements industries. Almost every supermarket in America has an aisle devoted to this type of merchandise along with various similar items scattered throughout the rest of their inventories. While the products themselves usually aren’t dangerous or necessarily bad for you, they often do not provide the health benefits that their packaging promises. They tend to display claims that have not been officially evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means that the information presented could be completely bogus. But, the consumer won’t discover that unless he or she takes the time to read the microscopic print at the bottom of the label.
As part of a larger effort to combat false advertising, the FTC issued a complaint against the manufacturers of POM Juices. This company states that their drinks and supplements can treat or prevent a host of serious medical conditions, including heart disease, certain cancers, and high blood pressure. The organization explains that it only permits the use of scientific studies in advertising as long as the experiments referenced yielded conclusive results to substantiate the company’s reports. According to the FTC, POM’s statistics don’t measure up.
This incident should serve as a reminder to marketers everywhere: don’t compromise the integrity of your business by engaging in unethical publicity practices. Doing so puts you at risk for a federal investigation and will eventually ruin the trust you’ve established with your customer base.