DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING AND MARKETING PRACTICES
Deceptive advertising and marketing practices have been around since the beginningof time and are still prevalent today. Sometimes it is done unknowingly by anadvertiser, however, more often than not, it is done with the intent to mislead theconsumer, making deceptive advertising a relevant marketing ethics issue. This paper will first define deceptive advertising and marketing, and describe different types of deception. Next, it will examine what makes an advertisement or marketing practicedeceptive. A look into the deceptive advertising issues of the 1990’s as well asreviewing the monitoring agencies, and addressing liability issues and the penaltiesassociated with deceptive advertising will also be covered.
What is Deceptive Advertising and Marketing?
An advertisement or marketing practice is considered deceptive if there is a"representation, omission, or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer". Theadvertisement does not necessarily have to cause actual deception, but, according tothe Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the act need only likely mislead the consumer (Federal Trade Commission, 1998 [on-line]).
Types of Deceptive Advertising
According to David Gardner (1975) there are three types of deceptive advertising:Fraudulent advertising which is an outright lie; false advertising which "involves aclaim-fact discrepancy", such as not disclosing all the conditions to receive a certain promotion or price; and misleading advertising which involves a "claim-belief interaction" (Assael, 1998). An example of claim-belief deception is the Warner-Lambert Listerine case. The label on the Listerine mouthwash bottle stated "KillsGerms By Millions On Contact" immediately followed by "For General Oral Hygiene,Bad Breath, Colds, and Resultant Sore Throats". This misled consumers to believethat by using Listerine, it could prevent the common cold and sore throat (Warner Lambert, 1978). Listerine had to redo its advertising and delete "colds and resultantsore throats".
What Makes Advertising Deceptive?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the government agencyresponsible for regulating and monitoring advertising practices, there are three