Although this is an AMUL advertisement but still, the adaptation of the subject matter will give you an idea as to what the controversy regarding MR Coffee
was all about. Please note the subjective image now understand as to why there was so much hue and cry when a TV commercial was aired.
Advertising regulation is a fascinating subject, and it is heavily determined by political attitudes. Those who believe in less government and think that business should be left alone to regulate itself tend to favor less advertising regulation. Others who believe government has a role to play tend to want more legislation and government regulation.
To understand advertising regulation, a host of issues need to be addressed. One central issue is definitional- what is deception? One ad claimed that “Milwaukee’s finest beer,” is deception involved when many (particularly other Milwaukee brewers) argue that other beers are superior? What does “finest” mean? One advertisement claimed that a hair dye would color hair permanently. If someone exposed to the advertisement believed that the dye would hold for hair not yet grown and thus a single dye would last for decades, is the claim deceptive? Coming to Indian experience, put brand X fairness cream and you will get married.
A basic issue in the enforcement of these laws against deceptive advertising, to which we now turn, is how to define and identify deception.
Conceptually, deception exists when an advertisement is introduced into the perceptual process of some audience and the output of that perceptual process –
(1) Differs from the reality of the situation and
(2) Affects buying behavior to the detriment of the consumer.
The input itself may be determined to contain falsehoods. The more difficult and perhaps more common case, however, is when the input, the advertisement, is not obviously false, but the perceptual process generates an impression that is deceptive. A disclaimer may not pass through the attention filter or the message may be misinterpreted.
Dividing the definition into its three major components, it states that deception will be found if
1. There is a misrepresentation, omission, or practice that is likely to mislead.
2. The consumer is acting responsibly (or reasonably) in the circumstances.
3. The practice is material and consumer injury is possible because consumers are likely to have chosen differently if there was no deception.
Although some argue that this definition only codifies the body of law that preceded it, most observers suggest that the definition involves two major changes from prior positions that make it harder for an as to quality as deceptive. First, the deception must be likely to mislead. Second, the deception must occur in consumers acting responsibly or reasonably in the circumstances rather than simply occurring in a substantial number of consumers (even if they are naïve and unthinking).
Thus, the consumer is charged with at least some minimal responsibility in interpreting the advertising.
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