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Truth In Advertising

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If a company really told you the truth about its product in its ad, you’d never buy it. But how honest does a manufacturer have to be?

If you had to guess, if you saw an ad for lipstick called Super Stay 10-Hour Stain Gloss, how long would you expect it to last? Nope. At least not according to the group of consumers who bought Maybelline’s Super Stay 10-Hour Stain Gloss, which they say doesn’t last nearly that long.

But if advertisers told you honestly what was in every product, you’d never want to buy anything ever again. So what does the law say about how honest advertisers have to be?

The Federal Trade Commission, which protects consumers against deceptive trade practices, allows advertisers to use subjective claims or puffery – claims like “this is the best lipstick in the world.” But if there is an objective component to the claim – such as “tests show that this lipstick will last ten hours” then advertisers have to be able to substantiate it before they make the claim.

We will see what Maybelline did to test whether its product lasted 10 hours. But like most advertising, the truth may not be pretty.

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