Snippets from the book
Key Categories of Illegal Marketing Practices:
1. Product Safety – Governed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, charged to protect the public against unreasonable risks associated with a product.
2. Deceptive Advertising – When advertising is deliberately misleading to consumers either by misrepresentation of a product’s features or a false claim. Deceptive advertising is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.
3. Bait and Switch Advertising – Also governed by the Federal Trade Commission, this covers the practice of advertising one product to coerce consumers into a business when there is no intention to actually sell that product but to sell a different, often more expensive product.
In other reports, companies have been identified as being deliberately misleading in their advertisements, not just by pushing the boundaries of truth but by making blatant statements that omit any fact or evidence, scientific or otherwise. In 2017, Business Insider India reported the following:
- L’Oréal claimed that two of its skincare products could “boost genes” and generate “visibly younger skin in just seven days.”
- Activia brand yogurt landed the company with a class action settlement of $45 million in 2010. The yogurts were marketed as being “clinically” and “scientifically” proven to boost the immune system and able to help to regulate digestion.
- In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen for its advertising campaign promoting its “Clean Diesel.”
- Energy drinks company Red Bull was sued in 2014 for its slogan “Red Bull Gives you Wings.”
- New Balance was accused of false advertising in 2011 over a sneaker range that it claimed could help wearers burn calories.
In the pet training industry, it is not uncommon to see claims similar to these, which are labels at best and factually inaccurate at worst, given the scientific research now available to us. Read more in the Chapter on Consumer Protection and Transparency!