Are there any standards at all for TV ad disclaimers?

You know how ads imply that a product works great, or you’ll lose 50 pounds, or whatever, and then you notice some tiny little letters at the bottom of the screen for a couple of seconds, that can only be read if you have a DVR and a 60" HD screen?

Why even bother with the disclaimers, if nobody can read them?

There are regulations which require disclaimers in a lot of situations. Unfortunately, the lobbyists for the advertisers have a large say in what disclaimers are required and in what form.

The evil outcome is that the politicians can proudly claim they are regulating to protect the consumer, whereas the lobbyists have in effect bribed the regulations into ineffectiveness.

If you listen carefully, you might hear the announcer say quickly, “Disclaimer subject to no standards whatsoever.”

The FTC mandates that the disclaimer must be made in the same manner as the claim. Note it does not say exact manner. A fast spoke claim may be refuted by a printed disclaimer of equal quickness

This vagueness provides a LOT of leeway. Throw into the fact unless it’s a great public safety issue the FTC doesn’t really care. If a 100% benign diet pill doesn’t work, but doesn’t hurt you, the FTC isn’t likely to go after anyone really hard, unless the pill does some real damage, to you rather than your wallet :slight_smile:

The difference always comes from lawyers not the FTC. Before accepting ads to run, the various networks screen them and run them by their legal departments. The lawyers at NBC may decide a disclaimer is needed while the CBS lawyers think it’s fine.

Instead of shooting two commercials it’s easier to throw in the disclaimer and let it stand.