I recall two shifts in what was likely to appear in a TV commercial between my childhood and the time I graduated from high school. Now, it’s entirely possible that nothing in particular happened except a shift in tastes and cultural trends, but somehow I got the impression that something legally binding had happened to precipitate each change, and, if so, and (of course) if anyone knows anything about them, I’m curious to know the back-story.
a) Mentioning your Competitor by Name — when I was a kid, no one ever spoke the competition’s brand name or product out loud, or showed it in the commercial. It was “Brand X”. It was “pink pad”. It was “leading paper towel”. Suddenly, that changed: let’s compare Ajax to Comet. Taste: do you prefer Coke or Pepsi? Hey, an Infiniti blows away a BMW on this track! Etc. So… was it previously considered illegal (or against network policy, etc) to mention or show some other commercial product and say disparaging things about it, and then a legal or admin decision freed them up to start doing so?
b) Having to be Careful what you Claim — when I was a kid, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of restrictions on what you could claim in a commercial in order to sell your wares. Eat a bowl of our cereal each day and it will keep the bullies away. Our cookies are made by elves in a hollow tree, not in a factory. LIghtning’s brighter when you chew our gum. But also less fanciful stuff that was apparently intended to be taken seriously, yet was somewhere between questionable and impossible. (No really compelling example comes to mind, and I don’t want the thread to hijack along those lines anyhow). Anyway, it looked like the new rule was “you can say anything you like, including about your competitor or your competitor’s product, as long as it is true, but can the bullshit”. Claims became more cautious. And even the frivolous whimsical claims mostly disappeared, or were modified along the lines of “some people even say that ___” (;)). So … a truth-in-advertising legal decision or policy? If so, was it related to the first one, assuming both phenomena existed as legal or policy decisions?