Truth in Advertising

Have you seen the ad on television for a laxative that across the bottom of the screen says “this is an advertisement?”  Really now, is this truth in advertising gone too far?  Is it necessary that every time somebody says something on a television ad that they must be identified as professional or everyday Joe?

Pay attention to the next ads for vitamins, pain relievers, or laxatives as they march across your TV screen.  There in a neatly pressed white consultation jacket is the spokesperson to tell you that the laxative will work gently overnight.  Just so you aren’t too taken away by the efficiency of those who invented said laxative, fine print across the bottom of the screen reminds you that the person in the neatly pressed white jacket is a “doctor dramatization.”  An actor even!  Now you know that he didn’t extoll the laxative’s overnight virtues from years of research but just read the ad copy.

Next, somebody is hawking the latest in floor cleaner.  It could be that she is just a regular Joe (or Josephine).  To be sure the little letters across the bottom of the screen now let you know that the person saying those nice things about the latest mop is being compensated for his or her time to tell you what the ad writers have written.

Labor Day recently gone by traditionally ushers in school starts, fall with its turning leaves, cooler temperatures, and the November general election.  Here, television ads for governor have been running on air throughout the summer.  Now they will only increase in frequency and annoyance.  The two candidates have a handful of different ads to air so that, we suppose, nobody gets too tired seeing the same one over and again.  But the one candidate’s, although with different backdrops, all say the same thing and start the same way.  “Did you see my opponent’s ad with this actress talking about me?”  Gee, we didn’t realize they used actors and actresses in political ads.  Is that important?  If they used real constituents to read the script nobody could keep a straight face for those 30 seconds.

It used to be so much easier when whomever regulates advertising said that a company couldn’t say their car got 100 miles per gallon when it barely got ten, when the hamburger bought at a drive through looked at least a little like the one on television, when the laundry soap got at least some of the stains out.

Now that they’ve taken care of those pesky issues we have to be careful that we don’t confuse an ad with a news report.  Remember the next time you see a person drooling over a frozen dinner on television to check the bottom of the screen and see if it doesn’t say “hungry person dramatization.”  You wouldn’t want to be misled that frozen food is tasty in its own right.

Now that’s what we think. Really. How ‘bout you.


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