The Internet and Its Power
In light of the fact that consumers have unlimited access to information about companies and their products through the Internet, does false advertising hurt consumers? I believe false advertising is not as bad as it used to be because advertising in general has always promoted false ideas. Also, manufacturers face potential lawsuits with every product they manufacture so they have been forced to promote more truthful information about their products. There are so many warning labels written about products that consumes would have to be nearly brain dead not to be informed about a product they are purchasing. There have been numerous laws to protect consumers from false advertising beginning in 1914 with the passing of the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Act (www.ftc.gov). Due to multiple consumer protection laws and consumers’ access to the Internet, false advertising is a minor problem in today’s world, rather than a major risk to consumers as it had been in the past.
Historically, false advertising misled consumers by promoting products through various methods. For example, advertisers used puffery to over-promote their products by employing sayings such as, “the best car deals in town” or “the best hot dog in town.” In addition, “Anheuser-Busch’s ‘King of Beers’ slogan for Budweiser is [an example of] puffery” (Davis, 1991). In other words, puffery’s goal was to puff the product into more
False Advertising 2
than what it was in order to fool consumers. Although puffery is still used today, the Federal Trade Commission, in 1983, “used what was known as the ‘fool’s test’ to draw the line. In short, the test is: if only a ‘fool’ would believe a fanciful or stretched claim, then the advertising is puffery” (Davis, 1991). Therefore, the FTC has tightened its standards as to how far advertisers can go to fool consumers.
Not only has false advertising attempted to fool consumers into buying mediocre...