Guide to Advertising Review
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Guide to Advertising Review

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A primer for the Better Business Bureau's advertising review process.

A primer for the Better Business Bureau's advertising review process.

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Guide to Advertising Review Guide to Advertising Review Presentation Transcript

  • Advertising Review A primer from the Better Business Bureau.
  • Why do ad review?
      • Foster business self-regulation
      • Maintain public confidence in business, thereby eliminating subsequent consumer and competitive complaints.
    BE HONEST
  • The Bureau does this by:
      • Identifying cases of misleading, deceptive or untruthful advertising
      • Initiating communications with the company whose advertising is being reviewed in order to seek voluntary substantiation or modification of the claims in question
      • Having a process for handling cases where the Bureau and the company cannot agree; and
      • Having a process for informing business and the public about the Bureau’s efforts in the field of advertising review.
  • Local Advertising Review Process Complaints Local BBB Local BBB Local Advertising Review Committee
  • During the Ad Review process, the BBB will typically consult the following:
    • BBB Code of Advertising at www.bbb.org
    • Do’s and Don’ts in Advertising
    • Federal Trade Commission ( www.ftc.gov )
    • State Laws (consumer protection, false advertising laws, etc.)
    • Local statutes (going out of business sales, etc)
  • BBB Code of Advertising
    • Basic Principles
    • Primary responsibility for truthful and non-deceptive advertising rests with the advertisers. Advertisers should be able to substantiate any advertisement BEFORE publication.
        • Advertisements which are untrue, misleading, deceptive, etc. should not be used.
  • How does the BBB determine if an ad is deceptive?
    • What would a “reasonable person” think?
    • What is being “expressed” or “implied”?
    • What does the ad NOT say?
    • Does the ad influence purchasing decisions?
    • Is there sufficient evidence?
    • The BBB looks at the ad from the perspective of the “reasonable person”.
    • The BBB looks at both “expressed” and “implied” claims.
    • The BBB looks at what the ad does not say.
    • The BBB looks at whether the claim would be material to a consumer’s decision to purchase.
    • The BBB looks at whether there is sufficient evidence to support the advertisers claims.
  • Comparative Price, Value and Savings Claims
  • Comparative Price, Value and Savings Claims
    • Advertisers may offer a price reduction or saving by comparing their selling price with:
        • Their own former selling price,
        • The current selling price of identical merchandise sold by others in the market area, or
        • The current selling price of comparable merchandise sold by others in the market area.
    • Ads should make clear to which of the above the comparative price or savings claim relates. Save 40 – 75% off regular price
      • This means the company offered the product at the regular price prior to offering it on sale.
      • Note that the company says the regular price and then the sale price.
  • List Prices
      • Usually used to imply a savings when such is not the case.
      • List prices should only be used as a comparative to the sale price only if it is the actual selling price of the advertiser or a competitor.
  • Going out of Business Sales
    • Emergency or distress sales should not be advertised unless the stated or implied reason is a fact, should be limited to a stated period of time, and should only offer such merchandise as is affected by the emergency.
    • They can’t “stuff” the store with merchandise from other places.
    • If liquidating should show what they are liquidating so consumers don’t think they are going out of business.
  • Here is a meet or beat policy that doesn’t need any other explanation.
  • Free
    • Unconditional gift
    • If requires purchase must be disclosed with the free offer (not by using an asterisk)
    • Price of product or service must not be increased nor its quantity or quality reduced
    • Free offer must be temporary (otherwise it becomes a combination offer)
    • The company can’t absorb the price of the furnace, it has to be built into the purchase of the air conditioner. Therefore it is not FREE!
  • Credit
      • Triggering Terms:
        • The amount of the down payment
        • The amount of any payment
        • The number of payments or the period of repayment
      • Required Disclosures:
        • The amount or percentage of the down-payment
        • The terms of repayment
        • The "annual percentage rate," using that term or the abbreviation "APR." If the annual percentage raw may be increased after consummation of the credit transaction, that fact also must be stated.
  • No Credit Rejected
    • Words such as “no credit rejected” and the like should not be used unless true, since they imply that consumer credit will be extended to anyone regardless of the person’s credit worthiness or financial ability to pay.
    • All credit applications accepted means that they’ll say “thank you for the application” when they get the application, not that credit will be extended!!
    This is big in the car industry
  • Extra Charges
    • These should be disclosed in immediate conjunction with the price. Examples include delivery, installation, assembly, postage and handling.
    • Retailers like to bury this information in the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad
  • Bait and Switch
    • A “Bait” offer is an alluring but insincere offer to sell a product or service which the advertiser does not intend to sell.
    • Examples:
      • Offering a product for a very low price, but having the sales person disparage the product when you go into the store and suggest a higher price product.
      • Offering a product and not having it available and switching the customer to another product on which the sales person makes more commission.
  • Sufficient Quality of Advertised Merchandise
    • An advertiser should have on hand a sufficient quantity of advertised merchandise to meet reasonably anticipated demands, unless the advertisement discloses the number of items available or states “while supplies last.”
    • Use of rain checks is no justification for inadequate estimates of reasonably anticipated demand.
    • Retailers who have flyers in newspapers usually prepare then months ahead of time, so they should have time to prepare for the sale!
  • Warranties
    • Disclosure should be made clearly and prominently that consumers can see the warranty at the store (prior to sale!), free upon written request, or on the company’s Web site.
    • Satisfaction guarantee – conditions should be listed in ad.
    • Consumer Products Warranty Act (FTC)
    • Lifetime – life of the person buying it or the product?
  • Lifetime Warranty Is the warranty for the lifetime of the truck, for your lifetime or for the time that you own the truck?
  • Asterisks Asterisks should explain the initial concept more clearly, not take away what has been given.
    • An asterisk may be used to give more information, but should not be used as a means of changing the meaning of any statement.
    • Example:
      • Top of an ad “Free Car*.” Bottom of the ad “*buy one and get the second of equal or greater value at the same price.”
  • Abbreviations
    • Only abbreviations commonly known should be used. If you have to ask it is probably not common.
  • Superiority/Disparagement
    • Comparisons should be truthful using factual information
      • Consistent with general rules and prohibitions against false and deceptive advertising
      • Clearly disclose any material or significant limitations
      • All claims must be substantiated
  • Testimonials/Endorsements
    • Testimonials could mislead if:
      • it is not genuine and does not actually represent the current opinion of the endorser;
      • it is not quoted in its entirety, thereby altering its overall meaning and impact;
      • it contains representations or statements which would be misleading if otherwise used in advertising;
      • while literally true, it creates deceptive implications;
      • the endorser is not competent or sufficiently qualified to express an opinion concerning the quality of the product or service being advertised or the results likely to be achieved by its use;
      • it is not clearly stated that the endorser, associated with some well-known and highly-regarded institution, is speaking only in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of such an institution, if such be the fact;
      • broad claims are made as to endorsements or approval by indefinitely large or vague groups, e.g., "the homeowners of America," "the doctors of America";
      • an endorser has a pecuniary interest in the company whose product or service is endorsed and this is not made known in the advertisement.
  • What do we collect to review?
    • Newspapers from our service area
    • Direct mail
    • Radio
    • Television
    • Customer complaints
  • If you see an ad you think is misleading, let us know!
    • Tri-State Better Business Bureau
    • www.tri-state.bbb.org
    • www.BBBConsumerEducation.com
    • [email_address]
    • (812) 473-0202