Truth in Advertising

What is truth in advertising? How do you know when a manufacturer is over promoting a service or product? Caveat Emptor means “buyers beware” and it is the common mantra of organizational marketing and sales groups. There are countless examples of caveat emptor in the marketplace. Can we trust that the FTC is screening the ads we are exposed to? Is there anything wrong with pushing the limits of truth to close a sale? After all this serves the best interests of the stakeholders.


September 15th, 2008 at 3:48 pm
So Paul writes, “Shall we sin more so that grace shall freely abound? Certainly not!”
Sure it’s important to make a sale and to increase the values of the shareholders. BUT, doesn’t it make sense to want to keep your customers for the long haul?
The transactional leader would see this and have no problem with it. After all the sale helps to move his commission, bonus etc. The transformational leader however, sees this as a long term loss.
So, to paraphrase the already paraphrased verses above: “Shall we knowingly mislead in order to make a sale today? Certainly not!

September 18th, 2008 at 10:36 am
I believe it’s impossible to come to an agreement on this topic. How do you capture attention of consumers if you don’t promote the benefits of your products? We do live in a consumer-driven society…companies must make their product attractive. We as a people are always looking for better, faster, more, cheaper. How do companies who produce products stay in business and keep the economy going if they do not advance to what consumers are looking for? Sure, advertising could (and in most cases does) push the limits of truth. And I don’t personally trust the screening of the FTC before advertising is released. What I would like to see, is a way for making buyers more responsible for what they purchase. If something sounds too good to be true, in most cases it is. I believe buyers should take more personal responsibility for discerning what can be seen as a scam or the truth about the product.

September 18th, 2008 at 9:18 pm
“How do you know when a lawyer is lying?” “His lips are moving.”
Is it this bad with advertising, no, at least not always. Businesses trying to make a profit have the duty to convince prospective customers to become actual customers. They do not always have the customer’s best interest in mind, but they always have the business’s best interest in mind. Caveat Emptor is the reminder to the customer that they are the ones looking out for their own best interest. It also implies that, therefore, the business is looking out for the business.
This is not necessarily an unethical way of doing business. After all, millions of products are offered on the market for almost anyone to purchase, and only we can decide for ourselves which products have the best fitness for our needs. We must educate ourselves so that we can make the best decisions on our own behalf. Through becoming knowledgeable will we be able to distinguish the charlatans from the knights. Through becoming informed will we know how truthful the advertising is.

This challenge becomes more difficult when, as in the FDA article, we are talking about Medicine. We each cannot possibly become doctors so that we can understand the implications of taking one pill over another over none at all. But by learning what we are able, to the limits of our capabilities, we can determine what questions to ask and decide who we can trust to guide us.

Of course this does not apply universally. Some cannot choose for themselves and are not capable of becoming informed to a sufficient degree. Here we must help each other.

October 18th, 2008 at 10:59 pm
Truth in advertising is rare. Understanding this comes at an early age; sometimes the lesson is given by the sad little toys in a cereal box. Direct to patient advertising in medicine is a double-edged sword. People do come in and ask if a drug is something they need. Often they would be completely inappropriate subjects for the advertised medicine. On the other hand, it does push providers to think about alternatives for some patients. As in most things in life, a balance must be maintained. If someone is promising you the moon without benefit of a spaceship, they are probably worried about the shareholders more than the stakeholders. The FTC has rules, and we are grateful for them, but often they do not go far enough or they catch the guilty far, far too late. So one must always be aware of potential problems and try to examine each need carefully and with wisdom.

November 19th, 2008 at 5:52 pm
How can you possible trust any advertising these days? You can’t. We have “reality shows” that are far from reality. How can we hope to discern when faced with critical decisions? I think one source is through social networking. I consult Trip Advisor for opinions and ratings on hotels and resorts. The last place I’ll trust is the resort web site itself. I found a similar network for prescription drugs which included testimonials from users, both good and bad. When these social networking systems start to drive product and service quality, they become Socio Technical Systems, influencing outside the group.

December 13th, 2008 at 12:10 pm
To Nine20to
And never forget that lawyers are paid by the word.

December 13th, 2008 at 7:01 pm
I will always remember the concept learned in Business Law in undergrad business degree. Puffery. Ever since then, it has become the filter I put everything through. As the old saying goes, If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We all get burned at some point, but for the most part, the free market corrects these products and they find the door. We can be skeptical of everything (as I am sometimes accused of), or we can do our research and ensure we are making wise decisions. I seem to be burnt the most when making quick decision based on emotions and so forth. We are responsible for our decisions and purchases. Government needs do no more than take the things out of the market that create health hazards to unknowing users.

February 28th, 2009 at 10:51 am
The user needs to always beware.Caveat Emptor always applies. Since the seller may not always have the ability to know the whole truth. As an example, my wife and I were looking at a foreclosed home when we moved to Colorado. It looked great everything the Realtor told us was the truth. Yet, upon further review I noticed in the breaker box fuses missing. I continued my brief inspection and found copper wire had been stripped from the house as well as copper pipes. The realtor took the house off the market and called the bank who owned the house. Was this a case of false advertising or was it a case of the owner not knowing the truth. I would suggest it was the later. So not in all cases does the leader know the true status of a situation.

March 2nd, 2009 at 11:35 am
Truth in advertising… won’t that be the day. Is this a problem however? I do not think so. The reason I say this is that we still (at least for a few more days and the next government spending bill is passed) operate in a free market economy. The simple concept that we all need to understand is that everyone is only out for themselves. I had a law professor who said something that really stuck with me. He said “do yourself a favor and do not trust anyone… and be wary of yourself as well.” It is really a rarity that people in the competitive business environment are really concerned about you. Everyone is just a piece of the market and if I can run you out of business I can gain a larger share of the market.

By understanding this concept, we as both consumers and employees in this environment know where everyone is coming from… their own best interests. It is up to you and me to educate ourselves and find out the truth and facts about everything. We cannot trust anyone of this world. The only one that we can truly trust about truth in advertising is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Everyone else is the same.

March 3rd, 2009 at 5:26 pm
What is truth? If truth is the opposite of a lie, then yes, we see, for the most part that is, truth in advertising. If truth however, is that of letting the consumer believe a false idea, without an outright lie being told, then yes, we see truth in advertising. Buyer beware is correct, however is that always the responsibility of the end user? Shouldn’t we take our dollars and spend them on ethical companies, willing to offer the initial step in Reciprocal trust, similar to the relationship God had with Adam and Eve, prior to their fall? If one were to also include STS thinking into this issue, the resolve might be better accomplished by remembering that people ultimately control the knowledge based sharing, as such, organizations will change their communication.

March 3rd, 2009 at 5:28 pm
What is truth? If truth is the opposite of a lie, then yes, we see, for the most part that is, truth in advertising. If truth however, is that of letting the consumer believe a false idea, without an outright lie being told, then no, we do not see truth in advertising. Buyer beware is correct, however is that always the responsibility of the end user? Shouldn’t we take our dollars and spend them on ethical companies, willing to offer the initial step in Reciprocal trust, similar to the relationship God had with Adam and Eve, prior to their fall? If one were to also include STS thinking into this issue, the resolve might be better accomplished by remembering that people ultimately control the knowledge based sharing, as such, organizations will change their communication.

March 4th, 2009 at 10:30 pm
I do not think that the FTC does monitor the advertizing as they should and I also think that companies will try all the time to push the limits if they think they can get away with it.
It would be nice to see more concern for the Christian community and put stricker guidelines on what can and cannot be put out there for all ages concerned. I am shocked at some of the things that are allowed and it seems that the truth is stretched as far as possible when they are trying to reach the young and impressionable consumers.

March 4th, 2009 at 11:45 pm
Truth in advertising is extremely rare. Unfortunately, society currently views advertising as truth when it comes to promotion of a product or service. As such, in advertising, mainly the positives and benefits are seen, rather than the full 360 review of products or services. After all, the end result is to sell your item. Caveat Emptor or “buyer beware” is important. But I do believe that the FTC should be doing a better job at screening and providing more comprehensive reviews of ads we’re being exposed to – especially considering the audience the ads reach (television, print, internet, etc. reach children as well as adults). Is there a danger to pushing the limits of truth to close a sale? I believe so. Companies have a responsibility to truthfully advertise their products – particularly when it comes to medicines! However, I’m not hopeful that companies will do this, and thus believe that as consumers, we need to carefully scrutinize the products and services we procure, and also have a realistic view of current advertising practices. We also need to teach our children how to filter advertisements for truth.
Bringing STS into the discussion, I believe that socio-technical systems can provide a means for us as the consumer to gain a more comprehensive view of products and services. Using information sharing and knowledge management, consumers can now band together and actively participate in action research, providing feedback, implementing change, collaborating, and accelerating communication, learning and knowledge sharing. This can be a very powerful tool for the consumer in letting organizations and companies know what we are thinking.

March 7th, 2009 at 10:39 am
It is sad but true that advertisers will use just about any and every means to capture the attention of the customer. I have noticed that ads are getting even more sensualized which for some does capture their attention. I do not believe that the FTC is doing much monitoring or “censoring” of the content of these ads. Unfortunately, the solution does not seem close at hand. Boycotting a product is not sending a message of what is wrong, just that the product is not selling. The consumer will need to carefully weigh what they want to buy and make a personal, conscious decision on what company to support.

Mary Anne Mooradian
March 7th, 2009 at 11:29 am
Mark Twain once said, “A historian who would convey the truth must lie. Often he must enlarge the truth by diameters; otherwise his reader would not be able to see it.” I feel advertisers view their world much the same. To captivate consumers often they feel they must also “enlarge the truth”.
I liken it to Sea Monkeys. When I was a child you could see advertisements for Sea Monkeys in many comic books and magazines. The pictures portrayed a happy family of little naked people with tails. Everyone I knew wanted a Sea Monkey. However, when you bought these Sea Monkeys, they were actually brine shrimp and looked nothing like little people. I was very disappointed. However, I had purchased this item so the advertising what effective. I know MANY people in my age range who also purchased Sea Monkeys. Were the Sea Monkeys a waste of money? Absolutely. Would I have purchased these Sea Monkeys if I knew they were ugly brine shrimp? Never. Did the company do fabulously by misleading kids like me to talk our parents into purchasing Sea Monkeys. They sure did! I feel Sea Monkey’s taught many children in my generations our first lesson in reading the small print, (it said something like the picture differs from the product), and what you see advertised isn’t always what you get.
To answer the questions above: What is truth in advertising? Truth is subjective. Like the Sea Monkeys. There was some sort of truth. You could grow them, and they were in some ways I guess they were considered a family. How do you know when a manufacturer is over promoting a service or product? Read the small print! Use your resources, Google it, phone a friend. In today’s world many of us are educated enough, (and have been burned enough times), to be educated. Caveat Emptor means “buyers beware” and it is the common mantra of organizational marketing and sales groups. There are countless examples of caveat emptor in the marketplace. Can we trust that the FTC is screening the ads we are exposed to? I don’t feel the FTC is solely responsible for screening the ads we are exposed to. I don’t even think they have enough people on staff to do that type of an assignment! I feel that as consumers we have some responsibility in holding people accountable for what they advertise. Is there anything wrong with pushing the limits of truth to close a sale? After all this serves the best interests of the stakeholders. “Wrong” is subjective. I feel some people would answer there is everything wrong in pushing the limits of truth, but often times this is in direct conflict with the best interests of the stakeholders.

March 8th, 2009 at 3:23 am
Where I work, the sin of omission is very easy. My technical pre-sales team shudders every time I remove my badge and proceed to explain to a customer the implications (unseemly downsides) of adopting our technology. I have built a long list of solid customer relationships using that approach. Surprisingly, the approach resulted in a very small percentage of lost sales. Unfortunately, and equally surprising, is the number of times someone from that pre-sales team remarks “I wish you wouldn’t do that.” Never mind that they cannot recall an occasion where it tarnished a sale.
Openness also circumvents dissatisfaction. Not disclosing issues implodes trust. So, you get the present sale, but may never get another audience with the customer, sacrificing long-term gains from a long-term relationship for short-term gains. However, short-term gain measures exert considerable influence on those that are willing to conform and do not have the influence and backing (backbone?) to be courageous followers.

April 22nd, 2009 at 12:59 pm
A simple rule of thumb is to always count on manufacturers over promoting a good or service. In an extremely competitive global marketplace, companies have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver in hopes of attracting consumers. Unfortunately, in our current economic condition many manufacturers, marketers, and sales personnel cut the ethical corner when promoting their products.
In addition, what are the first words that you think of when someone says “salesperson?” Are the answers: slick, sleazy, annoying, sketchy, menacing, and seedy? If so, there is no trust. Trust is essential to every sales and business relationship. Therefore, pushing the boundaries of truth to close a sale is shortsighted, especially if the sale requires return customers. As cliché as it may sound, being honest and ethical with costumers during business sale will lead to long-term prosperity and customer allegiance.

April 22nd, 2009 at 2:39 pm
As a consumer, I tend to approach every buying situation knowing that there is more to the story. In everything involving my hard earned dollar, there is some fine print at the bottom of the page. Rarely, in my experience as an adult, have I been lied to by a person, or an organization trying to relocate a dollar from my pocket to theirs. It has happened, but not very often. Come to think of it, when it did happen, it involved a shady mortgage broker and I don’t recall seeing a lot of advertising associated with the company he was connected to.
I believe that we are smart consumers when we keep the phrase “caveat emptor” rooted in the back of our minds. We have to follow that up with, “What exactly did we expect from this product we just purchased?” If we don’t really know what we initially expected or we expect the product to do something it was never intended to do, then of course we will be disappointed. We might even try to blame the seller for lying to us.
I think we have to assume that there are limitations to the things we buy. We are also wise to understand that in a system where there is competition for our dollars, only one competitor can really produce the “best” product. The rest of the competitors aren’t necessarily lying to us about what their products cannot do as much as they are, in a sense, “over promoting” what their product can do, and why that might be better in the end. Think of the seemingly age old debates you might have heard between people who have purchased cars or trucks from Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Toyota, Honda, etc. In the end, is one vehicle really that much better than the rest? Probably not. They each have their good qualities, and their bad. It’s not that the auto makers lied to the buyers about the overall quality of the vehicles; they just really emphasized the good parts to get us to buy.

April 26th, 2009 at 6:44 pm
Truths in advertising are poor examples of the word. Advertisements are meant to entice and amaze the view. Creating desire and passion for the object or service. Advertising uses half truths, they take things that are possible and stretch them to the limit. This allows unknowing or out of touch people think that these products will change their lives, or that they must have them to be cool. Buyer beware is not just a saying but a truth. As a consumer it is up to you to research the products and companies you buy from. Read reviews and sample products, otherwise your are subject to a half truth and could wind up on with the sour end of the deal. Trust yourself and your ability to find the truth because no one should just trust an advertisement.

June 21st, 2009 at 3:01 pm
If you think about it advertisement is what sales and what keeps the customer coming back. I would suggest that you do your own research before buying anything. Even thought the FTC is suppose to do its own research, how can you tell that they are telling the truth? Should you really trust them? Keep in mind it is better you do your research and trust God on all decisions.
Companies should have a mission statement/vision that states what their companies stand for. This statement/vision should be based on the way this companies advertise’s to customers and how they display their product.

August 10th, 2009 at 9:02 pm
Truth in advertising is when the company who is advertising, or the manufacturer, tells the truth about what a product can do. Does it actually exist? I would say it probably does, but it may be hard to find behind the myriad of commercials and other advertising that seems too good to be true, and probably is. It can be very hard to tell if a product is being over promoted, and sometimes it is very obvious. If a product hires a less than stellar ad agency it can show. Sometimes you see a product that can do all of these wonderful things and you just know that it has to be impossible. This usually happens when you see a commercial on late at night or on some obscure channel. You have to think that, if the product could do all that it says, it would be on a more prominent channel, on during peak hours, or in the news. Other commercials are more subtle and harder to tell. When a car company claims that a car is capable of giving you a certain amount of gas mileage, then you buy it and it is nowhere near what they say. You find that it takes a certain gas and oil under certain conditions to give you that mileage. But, they do not tell you that in the commercials or when you buy it.
I think that you can trust the FTC, but there is so much for them to monitor that it has to be hard to keep up. So things will slip through the cracks. To say that pushing the truth to get a sale serves the stakeholders is wrong in my book. The customer is one of the stake holders and pushing the truth does not serve them at all. It only gets people stuck with faulty merchandise or less than promised performance. I think advertising can be cleaned up, but it will take a huge shift in the mind set of the American public, which would be nice but a long time coming.

August 13th, 2009 at 5:29 pm
What is truth in advertising? It’s when the product really does what the advertisement says it will do… (And not what Billy Mayes insisted it would do).
Can we trust the FTC to do its job? To a certain extent, yes, but there are so many advertisements out there that I don’t think they have, or can afford to hire, the personnel it would take to police all of them. I think they monitor the major networks for the most part, but there are a lot of advertisements on cable channels that I think slip through the cracks. How closely could they monitor all the ads that are on channels like The Home shopping Network or QVC? I think as long as America has a “Get rich quick” mindset, the FTC is going to continue to be barely effective.

August 17th, 2009 at 10:17 am
Experience shows one cannot rely on others to make sure their getting a good deal. I would not leave it up to the FTC to make sure that I have not been taken for a ride. We each have a personal responsibility to do the research, do the homework, and know the product we are looking to purchase. If you don’t know anything about the product and are relying on the salesperson to tell you everything you need to know about it, expect to be taken for a ride because most salespersons have no other agenda then to make the sale. They absolutely do not care how much YOU pay or what kind of product you are receiving, it’s up to you to maintain the compassion for the product so do the research before shopping.
It’s extremely unfortunate but this is the world we live in today. A man’s word is only as strong as his handshake, and you can’t trust anyone farther than you can throw them. Therefore the only way combat this kind of environment is to do the work, do the research oneself and don’t rely on anyone to give you a straight answer about goods purchased.

September 19th, 2009 at 8:46 pm
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October 11th, 2009 at 8:45 pm
Caveat emptor, buyer beware. We have all encountered a situation in which we are presented with an offer that seems too good to be true. Take for example a used car salesman. Many of us have had an experience with some sleazy looking used car salesman attempting to give us a car we “just can’t live without”. We do our homework, study up on the car’s specs, think up the best questions, and try to gain as much information as possible before making the purchase. However, there seems to always be a proverbial break-down with the car only a few months after buying it. Our immense scrutiny that we apply towards purchasing a used car needs to be applied in another area of life.
It can be guaranteed that throughout our lives we will be offered with circumstances that seem just too good to be true. As Christians, we are under constant attack from the forces of Satan, and many times those attacks don’t always look so obvious. Scripture has told us that, before he fell from the grace of God, Lucifer was a beautiful, cunning leader of the angels. Ever since his defiance from God, Satan has pursued nothing but trying to separate us from God. Even though popular culture and beliefs have us thinking that the image of Lucifer is that of a grotesque, hideous, dark, evil looking monster, he doesn’t always appear that way. Although his intentions are that of a lion seeking to devour us, he cunningly disguises himself and sin as being very appealing and enticing to our unsuspecting eyes; buyer beware.
However, Jesus has given us a great example of how to do our homework in order to know how to battle the evil one. In the book of Matthew, Lucifer himself attempts to tempt the Son of God. By giving selling points of bread from rocks, heavenly flight, and offering every kingdom of the world, all for a “small signing fee”, Jesus threw Satan’s temptations right back in his face by quoting scripture. By rejecting the temptations by showing how Satan contradicted scripture, Jesus “did His homework” and had the best information available to expose the temptations for what they were. Even though there are times when we will be wary of moving forward in a decision, we need to make sure that we always do it when offered with scenarios that conflict with scripture.

March 2nd, 2010 at 9:05 pm
Truth and advertising really do not go together in the same sentence. It’s very difficult to see complete truth behind an advertisement. I would say there is some truth to an ad, but I also have no doubt that truth is left out. These ads are designed to make a sale so they are going to make their product look as good as possible. This means that they will intentionally leave out information in order to make a sale. It looks great to stockholders but the consumers take the hit. I believe the responsibility of checking if a product is good relies on the consumer and not a government organization. Not to be too ‘conspiracy theorist’ but wouldn’t it be in the company’s best interest if the FTC looked the other way on something objectionable? It’s a tough truth, but companies can be willing to sacrifice quite a bit to make the bottom line look good.
I think government organization, such as the FTC, have done an ok job on regulating and screening things consumers use and see. I still question what is governing these decisions? It seems like more and more is being let through and the standards are lowering. One area that these governing bodies have done well is with prescription drugs. At the end of nearly every ad, you get a list of disclaimers and ’side-affects.’ These are obviously because of previous issues and/or legal reasons but they are now enforced to be included on ads. It all boils down the consumer being wise and not getting too ’sucked-in’ by ads and really defining a rubric/standard to evaluate products and what they worth.

Cookie Monster
March 8th, 2010 at 9:37 pm
There are multiple issues at play when considering truth in advertising. First, there is the industry in which advertiser is playing. There are often industry standards or conventions that require less than strictly true claims. This is usually understood by industry insiders, which brings up the second issue with truth in advertising – the expectations of the consumers. Different consumers will have different expectations, ranging from the reasonable to the unreasonable. For example, reasonable consumers will not expect advertisers to focus on the negatives of their product. They will expect, however, that advertisers will be truthful in what they do say. Reasonable consumers will also expect that if there are serious flaws or risks in advertiser’s products that these will be revealed prior to purchase, although perhaps not in advertisements themselves. Lastly, there is the issue of common sense. In the litigious society that is the United States today, common sense has taken a back seat to some pretty ridiculous claims. For example, reasonable consumers do not expect that McDonald’s should focus on, or even mention, the risk of severe burns from their coffee during a commercial promoting that coffee. However, because of lawsuits, we now see “Caution: HOT!” warnings on most disposable coffee cups served today.
All this is to say that as leaders in business today, truth in advertising should be the ideal to which we strive. It should be the overriding principle to which we commit. But it is not something that can be strictly defined, and adhered to letter by letter. Reasonable adherence to truth dictates that people will expect advertisers to play within the rules of their industry, to focus on the positive advantages of their product, and to use common sense in assessing their moral imperative to give warnings.

April 20th, 2010 at 5:43 am
Truth in advertising. Yeah right!
Are they honest, I think they push the limits of truth so far that one has to wonder. The High Fructose Corn Syrup ads, first we are told it’s not good for us, and then an ad comes out and says, it’s okay, it’s just a corn based product. But, what is the truth, does anyone really know?
Can the trust the FTC to screen all the ads? I think they try and do their best but, with all the ads in different regions, in papers, TV’s, radio’s, etc, how can anyone organization screen so much data and be great at it? I don’t believe it can be done.
I have to agree with Cookie Monsters statement above regarding McDonald’s, I never would have thought about how HOT the coffee was, if it spilled it spilled, shame on me. Do we really need to put in our ads that coffee is HOT, isn’t that a given? Don’t we complain if our coffee isn’t HOT?
What is our world coming to when we have to put all the extra bs in ads, like side effects, warnings, etc.

Tania Blackwell
April 22nd, 2010 at 2:29 pm
I think now a days advertising is stretching its limits to pull in the customers. The industry in question does play a part as Cookie Monster mentions. Anne is also right stating the obvious in commercials and ads seem to be a little redundant, but when ads for drugs to cure or take care of issues side effects I think should be put out there. I find it odd and not really appeal to those ads that state a list of side effects to this drug, not sure I would want to even consider it. As leaders we have to take into consideration of the industry and what is expected as a norm and pull from there to use the imagination to draw the customers/clients in.

Josh Tilsley LED502
April 29th, 2010 at 3:57 pm
It’s a tricky dilemma. You want to advertise your product in the best light possible, making it sound like something a consumer cannot live without, however if a consumer is unhappy about the product, they can always pull out the old “false advertising” card…which could lead to a black mark on your company. I think any consumer with common sense would tell you that every company “pads” their advertising to make it more appealing than it really is. That’s just business. But the old mantra of “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is a great motto to keep in mind when purchasing something. There is a difference between padding your advertisement, and out-right lying. I have no specific examples of a company blatantly lying about their product and how great it is, but surely there are examples…otherwise this topic wouldn’t exist. Companies have an ethical obligation to be forthcoming and honest about the products they produce. It’s ok to hype something, but to outright lie about it is simply unethical and wrong. And no, I don’t think the FTC pays enough attention to this matter or else it would simply go away and we’d never hear about it. Tougher standards need to be implemented in my opinion.

November 28th, 2010 at 5:51 pm
I believe that marketing and advertising has stretched the limits on truth for a long time. This behavior is nothing new to the capitalistic market. Each company is out to capture its market share and if that means it should embellish its image or blemish the image of its competitors than that is what they will do. There is no way the FTC can screen all advertising in the fashion needed to ensure that everything included is accurate and true. The half truths and minor embellishments are difficult to identify and even more difficult to prove. The consumer must take greater care in the purchase of their products and will continue to consume at their own risk. Ethically there is everything wrong with pushing the limits to close a sale. There is a fine line to draw here and many companies choose to cross it.


Leave a Comment

  1. James Andrew Sanderson says:

    This is an interesting topic. I like to think the market as a free market (almost in an Ayn Rand sort of way). Even if the product is built up to be this great thing and turns out not to be, wouldn’t the consumer wise up and go to the competition? This is how I think a true market should work; Survival of the fittest. Proverbs 11:6 states, “Honesty can keep you safe, but if you can’t be trusted, you trap yourself”. Those who lie about their product will only trap themselves into a world of loss and bankruptcy. In marketing, it is the job of those working to keep their stakeholders happy, but they will only hurt themselves in the long run if they are not honest.

  2. Alex says:

    I enjoy the discussion on this topic. I went to school for Marketing and advertising. It’s a major I enjoy researching and being creative with. I find it very truthful though that not all advertisements are trustworthy or truthful. Marketing and advertisements have been pushing the limits for quite a long time now and to determine whether or not every single marketing campaign out there is trustworthy is impossible. Companies strive to make their products the best, and those who do have a strong market and demographic group to market to. Those who lie about their products or campaigns have angry individuals who now know that they have a scam. Every single company is advertising to build their customer base, whether or not they tell the truth is a different store, and varies from company to company.

  3. Alex says:

    The advertising industry is becoming a battle; companies are using each other’s slogans or trying to find new ways to improve their products, to beat their competitors. These improvements may or may not be the truth regarding the product, but they are advertising it whether it’s real or not. Companies, who are advertising something that is not truthful, are battling it out in court with consumers or even other companies. “False and misleading advertising is not protected at all.” (Clifford, 2010) The advertising industry will always be a battle; consumer will be faithful to the products that they believe work for them. “Advertising has always been a hyperbole and illusion.” (Clifford, 2010)

    Source: Clifford, S. (2010). Truth in Advertising? How truthful do ads have to be—and how much should we believe? Retrieved from:

  4. Jeff Ross says:

    Advertising is a necessary part of business in order to play in the market. At times, it can even be considered a necessary evil. Either way, this must be used by companies to keep their name in the public eye. In order to match competition, advertisements need to be made to look extremely appealing. At times, maybe more appealing than truth is. Nonetheless, it is necessary. Puffery is common to make the product seem appealing. This to me, is fair play of business, and buyers need to be aware of this tactic. However, there is a fine line between puffery and false advertisement. False advertisement would deem the act wrong.

  5. PT says:

    Truth in advertising is to follow through with what one advertised in good faith when possible. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether a manufacturer or service provider is over promoting a service or a product until one is fully or partially “committed.” It is impossible for all advertisement to be screened, however I believe that social media and word of mouth is one of the best ways of screening advertisements. With the development of platforms where people can share their experiences and product/service reviews, it is much harder for companies to deceive people for a long period of time. Eventually they will be caught if there is no truth in their advertising. I think truth in advertising is extremely important, especially for Christians who want to be a good testimony to others. “Pushing the limits” is between a person and God. If they are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and what their conscience tells them, they are more likely to make a wise decision. Salespeople should to be focused on whether they are meeting a clients’ need just as much as they focus on their sales quota.

    Example: When I was exploring options for graduate studies, I met with a CCU representative and told them that I was only interested in an in-seat MBA program. The enrolment counsellor offered me an in-seat program at CCU.

    After taking one in-seat class, we were informed that we were moving online temporarily, and would return to in-seat classes. Even though I learn better with in-seat classes and in-person discussions, I accepted this change because they insisted that my classes would return in-seat in a few months. To my surprise, eight months later, they told me we would remain online for the remainder of my degree. I was told that “many schools go through this” and there is nothing they can do about it. My student advisors did not advocate for me. Instead, they just insisted that there is nothing that can be done.

    There are many businesses and organizations that mislead in their advertisements and they do not follow through with their word and act with no integrity, but that does not mean that it is the correct thing to do. Many builders and contractors advertise that they can do a full bathroom and kitchen remodel, but once they remove client’s bathrooms and kitchens, and begin to install a new one, they leave part way through the job. Just because some organizations and businesses make decisions to mislead clients and advertise a product or service that they do not follow through with does not make it the right thing to do. When I worked as an engineer, I have seen projects where they noticed part way through that it would not be financially beneficial to complete it, however things should never be left incomplete. The team should always finish everything they promised to the client because they gave them their word. The project manager can report a loss on certain projects, they can decide never to do those types of projects again, or they can decide never to use that particular estimator again, but if someone makes a mistake on estimates or forecasts and they do not get as much financial reward as they originally thought, they never burn bridges, sacrifice integrity, and go against what they promised their client.

    I understand that there may be some financial consequences if CCU continues a class with fewer students, however, from what I’ve learned in the business and professional world, financial consequences is a small loss compared to misleading others and not acting with integrity. After this particular cohort, CCU can elect to never offer in-seat MBA classes again, or use more conservative student enrolment forecasts prior to offering another cohort or starting another program in the future, but taking something away from hard working existing students is not fair.

    It is extremely important that Christian organizations are a good testimony in their actions and do not mislead people in their advertising. I strongly feel that CCU had not acted with integrity, and has misled me and other students. If I were to make the choice again, I would never recommend this college based on my experience. After writing to Mr. Armstrong, he made the decision to reinstate our in-seat classes. I appreciate that he was willing to make that decision when many of the people I dealt with, including my student advisor, etc. were not willing to do anything about it. I believe that he did the right thing in following through with what the school advertised.

  6. Sean Reed says:

    I find it hard to believe and trust any of the current advertising that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Lately, I have noticed that advertising has turned in to a way of battling and bashing competitors. I understand how important advertising is for many organizations. For some, it is the only way that they can keep their products in the customer’s thoughts at all times. More importantly, I find it extremely hard to believe that all of the advertisements have been screened. However, I believe with a little common sense and word of mouth, it is possible to point out which advertisements have not been screened. As a Christian leader, truth in advertisement should be sincere and authentic. There is a very fine line that should not be pushed as a Christian leader. We are expected to tell the truth and be honest in our advertisement.

  7. azilliza13 says:

    As our society grows and changes it seems the drama and appeal of a product also changes. When toothpaste just came out one of the main ingredients was baking soda. Nowadays this list has grown to almost 20 main ingredients. Never once do they mention side effects of using their product. Instead, they hide this by stating the upside of the product; it brightens your smile in less than 3 weeks. We can see this idea advancing even further when we talk about “Green Washing”. I am sure we have all heard of it before, but because of everyones’ need and desire to do the “right” thing we become more susceptible to the marketing lies.
    Just last year I heard from more people that they purchased bamboo flooring because it was the green choice. This is far from true when you think about the fossil fuels burned just to get the bamboo here, and then the glues that are used to fuse the planks to the subfloor (hardly green when you think about what it emits into the air). This is just one instance. There are many more cases of the levels and depths of “Green Washing”. That it would take countless hours to research and each individual type.
    When it comes to the FTC regulating this, it would never feasibly happen. Every day there is over 300 new products “invented” and with these you have advertising agencies who find selling points for these products. They look for that catch that will get the buyers in and as of right now sustainability is that catch. Everyone wants to feel better about how they live, so we recycle, use biodegrable paper plates, but now there is a whole new dimension. Everything we own can now have a sustainable kick to it. This unfortunately, is because of our advertising we all drink the kool-aid and some point in time, but we are drinking it much faster than before.
    In conclusion, the FTC can only do so much, we won’t let them do to much more unless it because a life treating issue. We love to be lied to, to be told if we do this it will get better if we buy this it will fix it. This is a consumers market, and we love the lies that come with it.

  8. Mike K says:

    We have come to a place where we are not sure if a company is telling the truth in their advertising or not. Are they leaving certain pieces of information out, adding to the information, or not telling you something? They can and can certainly place things in the fine print because not everyone will read that. As far as the FTC and trusting them, we can’t because what might be ok for some people to be exposed to, it might not be ok for us or vice versa. Everyone’s limits of what they can handle or be exposed to are different. When it comes to pushing the limits of truth to close a sale, this is nothing new. When people work for commission, they will push the limits. It is best to do your own research and not be pushed r bullied into buying something you are not ready to buy. They only people that benefits from that sale is the stakeholders and the person selling you that item. Psalms 19:14 states, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (NIV). I pray that this is your pray, that your words and heart will be about God and your actions will be Godly. This is my prayer daily. I want everything I do to be about God’s business, whether it is as a father, brother, friend, family member, or whatever it is I am.

  9. Kevin Burt says:

    Good Afternoon!

    Sex sells says America. This is what a business knows when it comes to advertising, even if the approach has nothing to do with the product. A web hosting site called, is a prime example of this. After viewing these comercials myself, I asumed the product was an “adult site”, and not a place that looks to see what web domains are open for a business using their services. When reading their site, it points out how it is only ninety-nine cents to look what is open in domain names for your future site that your business is creating. After viewing their commercials I always assumed it was totally something else, and I even turn the channel when it comes on, because of the provocative nudity that it displays. I believe that these adds have nothing to do with the product, and they use sexuality in the commercials to just get a person intrigued enough to go to their site! It is unbelievable to say the least. After viewing on YouTube what they have shown on TV, I noticed they only had one that talked about (slightly) the website and what it is for (kind of). In all of their commercials they use sex to sell the website, rather than using real information to explain, advertise, and promote the site. It is not an ethical approach at all, and should not be allowed on TV, but due to our “worldly” society it is just going to get worse so they can get more people to their site…

    In Matthew 15:16-21 Jesus tells us that what we see enters our hearts. “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

    So how many people have came to harm (with their walk with God) after watching such things on these commercials? How many watch these commercials (not just from this company) and don’t realize their “hearts” could be damage, and promote sexual immorality in their life?

    What do you think? Do you think that Go Daddy goes to far? Why or why not? Hope to hear what others think, thank you for your responses!


    K W B

  10. Bob F says:

    Truth in advertising is somewhat of an oxymoron. Most people know that what they see on TV and other advertisements are a sales pitch and most of the time exaggerated to get potential customer’s attention. Where the debate comes in is when companies use misleading or information-deficient advertising to entice people to purchase their product. The main point of the debate is where is the line of manipulation?
    Does such advertising represent a deprivation of free choice, or is it rather an example of how free choice determines market forces? Control over a person is exerted through various kinds of influences, but not all influences actually control behavior. Some forms of influence are desired and accepted by those who are influenced, whereas others are unwelcome. Many influences can easily be resisted by most persons; others are irresistible” (Beauchamp, 2013. p. 256).
    The companies specifically target a certain market with their product and try to advertise in the most creative of ways to bring in every sale possible. Crossing the line and manipulating or outright lying to the customer poses the ethical problem. The organization owes an ethical responsibility to all of their stakeholders. These stakeholders are not only the financial backers but the potential customers that view their advertisements. We all know that not everything we are seeing in an advertisement is really possible in one product. We allow and expect a certain amount of creative marketing and advertising, not every company is out to cheat and swindle every dollar possible from their customers. If the product works and has appeal it will stand the test of time and be one that will continually attract ever increasing creative advertising.

    Arnold, D., & Beauchamp, T., & Bowie, N. (2013). Ethical Theory and Business. Boston,
    Massachusetts: Pearson Education, Inc.

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