and Unfair Advertising
In 1995, American newspapers had another record breaking year in advertising
revenue--$36.05 billion, according to the Newspaper Association of America.
Magazine revenue in 1994 rose almost 11% over 1993, tallying $8.5 billion,
according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
A 30-second commercial on FOX-TV during the 1996 Super Bowl cost between $1.2 to $1.3 milhon--a record
for a television network program.
Before 1996 had ended, the network had sold
every single spot. In 1994, U.S. advertising in all media reached $159 billion.
With stakes this high, no one should be surprised that some unscrupulous
individuals and corporations will be tempted to go beyond the law by engaging
in false, deceptive, unfair, misleading, and even fraudulent advertising. Others
may comply with the letter of the law, but step over the ethical line. Most
forms of deception, unfairness, and fraud, when detected, typically lead to
punishment or at least an agreement to halt the practice under threat of
penalties. Falsity, however, is often a different matter, especially if it is in the
guise of puffery.Suppose a television manufacturer makes these claims in its advertising:
|1. MFC (Moore-Farrar-Collins) TVs reproduce colors and sound so realistic
you'll never buy another that isn't made by MFC.|
|2. Buy an MFC set 32 inches or larger before the end of this month, and
you'll get a $50 rebate direct from MFC.|
|3. MFC offers the longest and most comprehensive warranty in the industry.|
As the head of your state Consumer Protection Division, you respond to
consumer complaints about MFC sets and launch an investigation. Your investigation reveals that (a) MFC has no evidence that consumers quit buying