Re: The Classic Do ultrasonic bug repellers work? from March 18, 1977

Some years ago, after reading a newspaper article that they worked, I bought two of those devices (they came as a pair) and installed them under my kitchen sink, where cockroaches, earwigs and the occasional mouse were found.

Although anecdotal, here’s corroboration of Cecil’s verdict.

Not only did nothing improve in the pest department, but the roaches laid their egg sacs on the device. Was this a result of their sense of humor, or an expression of utter contempt?

I wrote the company and requested they honor their money-back guarantee. They sent me a new pair, but no money. The second pair not only had roach egg casings on it, but a few mouse droppings as well.

This just goes to prove that the biggest lie that Madison Avenue ever concocted was their “truth in advertising” campaign.

Just wish I’d read the Straight Dope on this before I bought 'em.


What Madison Avenue “truth in advertising” campaign?

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board, jo-ro, we’re glad to have you with us. When you start a thread, it’s helpful to other readers if you provide a link to the column in question (you did great by providing the date, but the link is even better.) Saves search time, and keeps us all on the same page.

I’ve edited a link at the bottom of your post. No biggie, you’ll know for next time, and, as I say, welcome indeed. (Notice that I didn’t say your comment was buggy…)

Exapno Mapcase asked: “What Madison Avenue “truth in advertising” campaign?”

Somewhere around the 60s or 70s, the advertising industry (known to many then as Madison Avenue) was under fire for the plethora of ads that made claims too far from reality so they decided to respond with a major self-serving campaign that they called “Truth in Advertising”. It was their attempt to prevent the government from imposing rules, but it didn’t succeed. Very few people bought it and the FTC eventually established a set of rules they called Truth in Advertising. A look at the current media will tell you how lax any enforcement has been.

Cecil would likely have a lot more on this.

I’m positive I know far more about the history of advertising than Cecil.

No such Madison Avenue “truth in advertising” campaign ever existed.

I can be proved wrong with an actual cite, of course.

And where might we find these “Truth in Advertising” laws?

I have no idea how much you or Cecil knows. But the campaign happened.

You can start with the FTC, (the horse’s mouth, so to speak):

and then you can go to AlterNet’s take:

or a site that claims to help you avoid breaking these laws:

If you need more, you’ll probably find it in any search engine: “Truth in Advertising” (laws)

Yeah, but those Madison Avenue guys are so clever that they managed to bury all evidence of it from history. No doubt that’s why you can’t provide a cite.

For the purpose of telling us about how “Madison Avenue” was behind truth-in-advertising laws, your cites are absolutely useless, and your second cite is nothing more than a rambling opinion piece.


Well, it’s kind of the OP’s job, but I got curious.

I didn’t turn up anything on a Mad Ave TIA campaign but that doesn’t of course mean it DIDN’T happen, others I’m sure know more than I.

The supposed Madison Avenue campaign that supposedly got the laws passed is the part I’m questioning. AFAIK, the large advertising agencies fought tooth-and-nail against all such laws.

The magic words are “Printer’s Ink Model Statute”, Printer’s Ink being the name of a magazine for advertisers. Immediately pre-WW1, false advertising, especially for quack “medicine”, had become such a serious problem that it was undermining the entire advertising industry.

Until five minutes ago, I knew nothing about this. Looks like some of you need to work on your Google-fu.

Madison Avenue didn’t exist in 1911. Neither did the Federal Trade Commission. The Model Statute was the exact opposite of an industry campaign against government regulation. It was just what the name implies: a law that states could and did implement to give the appearance of regulation. The law was design to attack patent medicines, not large respectable companies. In short, it has nothing whatever to do with the OP’s comment.

How do I know? Because I’m pretty sure I know exactly what the OP was thinking of and garbled. Anyone who knows the history of famously phony advertising campaigns in the 1960s and the FTC response would make the connection right away. I’ve been teasing the OP by asking for a cite because I know full well that none can be given.

Does this mean that the advertising industry has never tried to fend off regulation? Of course not. It’s been trying to do so for pretty much every minute of its existence. That doesn’t allow you to throw a dart at the wall and draw a circle around wherever it lands.

Your post is proof of only one thing: Google is sometimes worse than ignorance. It leads you to think you know things that aren’t true.