You rarely see the FCC get involved in advertising content, unless it’s a noncommercial station that is getting a little too frisky with its underwriting announcement. But the FDA and FTC are more than willing to take up the slack, and both have recently. In both cases, the agencies objected to what they thought were overstated claims.
The Food and Drug Administration objected to Johnson & Johnson advertising for a preparation to combat athlete’s foot. Ads claim that Ertaczo does things like “crush,” “kill,” “destroy,” and “wipes out” a fungus that causes athlete’s foot and other maladies like jock itch and ringworm.
FDA thought that was a little strong and went beyond what the product accomplished in clinical tests, where it was proven to be modestly effective.
Apparently J&J failed to submit the ad to the FDA for approval prior to running it and also omitted information about associated risks.
Meanwhile, over at the Federal Trade Commission, a company called Dyna-E International was taken to task over “green” claims – in this case stating that its line of compressed dry towels was biodegradable.
FTC said that in if companies wish to make such a claim, “they must have scientific evidence that their product will completely decompose within a reasonably short period of time under customary methods of disposal.”
FTC explained that such products are most often “…disposed in landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities, where it is impossible for these products to biodegrade within a reasonably short time.”
RBR/TVBR observation: These cases do not involve outright cons or bald-faced lies. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of the language barrier between a company’s science and marketing departments, amplified exponentially by the unbridled enthusiasm of the latter.
Broadcasters generally do not have the expertise to decide when a line of this type has been crossed, nor are they expected too. So please, recognize and reject the cons and bald-faced lies. But we suspect that you may in good conscience leave most of these types of calls to the umpires at the appropriate federal agency.