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Ahead of the Curve Auto Supplier Blog

February 24, 2014

The Truth Shall Set You Free – FTC’s False Advertising Settlement with Nissan and its Ad Agency

We have all seen the car commercials that are clearly pure fantasy.  A recent one depicts a group of people in San Francisco running late for a meeting.  The driver is not worried because she can make her car jump on moving trains and avoid traffic.  The best part of this commercial is the disclaimer at the bottom that tells viewers not only that the commercial uses professional drivers on a closed course, but that the commercial is “fantasy.”  Now we all know that a car jumping onto a moving train is pretty clearly fantasy, but what about a truck pushing a dune buggy up a sand dune?   As Nissan and its advertising agency recently learned, if you are going to show a truck pushing a dune buggy up a sand dune and your truck is actually pulled up that dune by cables, your disclaimer doesn’t save you from a false advertising claim.  In the Nissan commercial, the disclaimer simply stated the commercial was “fictionalization.”  As a viewer, one could imagine that a truck might be capable of climbing a sand dune and perhaps even pushing another vehicle up that dune – even if that moment is fictionalized for the cameras.  The Federal Trade Commission considered the advertising to be false and filed administrative complaints against Nissan and its ad company.  “Special effects in ads can be entertaining, but advertisers can’t use them to misrepresent what a product can do,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This ad made the Nissan Frontier appear capable of doing something it can’t do.”  So the next time you’re watching a car ad, you might think about the thin line between fantasy and fiction.  You can read more about the claims and the settlement here.

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