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Federal Trade Commision: Consumers And Advertisements

1506 words - 7 pages

Every day consumers are faced with hundreds and even thousands of advertisements. One can simply sit in just about any public area and spot a multitude of them without even moving their head. With so many advertisements fighting to make themselves visible to the consumers, it is extremely difficult to be distinctive. It is even more complex to make an advertisement memorable and bring the consumer to make the coveted purchase. Because of this, many advertisers and marketers sometimes push the envelope in an effort to stand out from the crowd. The United States has a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) composed of five Commissioners appointed by the president in an effort to combat this falsity, ...view middle of the document...

They had claimed that as a good source of calcium, Wonder Bread helped children’s minds work better and assisted in improving their memory as well. The complaint centered on claims the company had placed directly in advertisements on the loaves of bread, ads in television spots, and in an in-depth look at the calcium benefits of Wonder Bread that the company had placed on their website listed under “nutrition.” One example of a false claim made that was pointed out in the FTC’s complaint is “Did you know that Wonder Bread is calcium fortified and now has 200% more calcium than regular white bread?” The FTC also went on to state that the company had no substantial scientific evidence or research to back these claims. Throughout its investigation, the FTC decided that Interstate Bakeries had made “unsubstantiated representations on television and in Internet advertising about the effects of the calcium in Wonder Bread on children's memory and brain function” (FTC Analysis).
The FTC has strict guidelines and laws on advertising and consumer protection that they follow. Wonder Bread’s advertisements violated several of these specifications which is the reason why they were able to successfully file a complaint against them. Under the Federal Trade Commission Act, advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive, have evidence to back its claims, and cannot be unfair. According to the Bureau of Consumer Protection, an advertisement is considered deceptive if it is either likely to mislead consumers from acting reasonably or is material that is important to the consumer. The Bureau goes on to say they mostly focus on health safety and claims made that could possibly leave an “average person” to believe that by using a product or service they could improve or protect their health. Wonder Bread clearly violated the FTC’s first rule against deceptive advertising. The company had made claims that would lead an average person to believe they would be improving their health or their child’s health when in fact they had no solid proof to back these serious claims.
This violation of the first rule leads the second reason Interstate Bakeries, or Wonder Bread, was pursued by the FTC. Upon investigation, the Commission found that the claims surrounding the benefits of the product Wonder Bread had no concrete evidence to prove the effects of the “calcium fortified” bread. There had been no test groups or medical tests completed in order to back up all of their advertisements and assertions. While it was perhaps true that calcium would have these effects on people, there was no proof that the bread would also have these same effects on someone eating the product regularly. The FTC points out that there are “express” claims which directly claim an effect from a product and “implied” claims which merely suggest that their product will eventually lead to some certain effect. Interstate Bakeries’ claims were express because though they claimed calcium, not their...

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